Woods was addressing the media at the U.S. Open Tuesday. The most imposing player in the history of golf ' arguably, admittedly ' had teed off at 6:30 in the morning with Notah Begay III and Mark OMeara. Thats his regular time on practice days to avoid some of the huge crowds that follow him step by step. His front nine, at least, is played in relative solitude.
No. 5 is an awesome par-5, 645 yards long and only a slight change in elevation. No. 16, a par-4, is 491 yards long, admittedly a little downhill. Such gargantuan holes would seem to play into the strengths of a long hitter. However, Woods says that there are a lot of different factors to consider.
Its hard to say, because No. 5 is more than likely going to be a three-shot hole for everyone in the field, he said. And No. 16 being 490, it plays downwind, and so it plays a heck of a lot shorter than the number.
Now, if the wind switches and it comes back in our face on a couple of these holes, it plays more like the hole on 5, and its going to be quite a challenge. But the prevailing wind, its always going to be downwind.
Is there an advantage to being a long hitter? Yes and no, I guess. If you drive it straight, yes. But you need to hit the ball in the fairway, and I think thats far more important than how far you hit it.
Southern Hills does not require a lot of preparation, though he snuck in and toured the course as a single the day after his win at the Memorial. He had played here once before, at the Tour Championship in 1996 when his father had heart problems. But courses such as this where everything is laid out in simplicity makes preparation easy.
This golf course is such that its straight-forward, its right in front of you, he said. There are no tricks. And that is one of the great things about playing some of these older golf courses ' there arent any lumps and bumps and blind shots. Everything is right in front of you.
It presents a challenge. The fairways are defined, the bunkers are very defined. And its going to be quite a test.
Tiger, of course, doesnt see himself as being the best ever for all time. He doesnt even see himself being the best ever in 20 years. By the time he is 45, he believes, they will be several who are more proficient.
What I am saying is that 20 years down the road, I think youre going to see better athletes playing the game, said Woods. Kids who are bigger, stronger, more athletically gifted than what weve seen in the past. I dont think it would be uncommon to see guys who are 6'3' and above whaling away at the ball with touch, and understanding how to play the game of golf, the strategy involved.
And I think thats going to be kind of neat to see what that happens, we get kids out here that big, that long, that proficient at controlling the ball.
Of course, the trend has started with Tiger Woods. He has won four straight majors, and this Open would be No. 5. Tiger believes that 'super athletes' could very close to being a reality. The implements they play with are keeping right in step.
I think the guys are better players now, he said. And with better equipment, better technique, the scores are getting better.
And with all the improvements in our game, the guys are just shooting better scores. And theyre trying to limit that with some of the golf courses, and the pin locations, more that anything. The rough isnt as high as theyve had it in the past. But theyre making up for it with the pins.
Theyre tucking the pins more than ever, in the history of watching things on the TV. They werent tucked three or four feet off the side to the hole; that wasnt the case. They were more in the middle. Its going to be fun to play in this, and see what we can do.
But Tiger Woods is still trying to win, regardless of where the pins are. And if he wins 20 in a row, he will still be trying just as hard to win No. 21.
Im not trying to win five, Tiger explained. Im trying to win one. I guess thats the best way I can explain it. Im not here this week just to win this week. What Ive accomplished in the past, thats great, but it doesnt hit any golf shots for me this week. Ive still got to go and execute my shots. And thats what Im going to try and do this week, go out there and give myself a chance to win come Sunday.
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