ORLANDO, Fla. – Tiger Woods used to be one of the longest hitters in golf.
When he tees it up Thursday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he won’t be the longest hitter in his threesome. In fact, he’ll be the shortest with Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland in his group.
Woods had some fun with his shrinking tee-shot stature.
“I’ll be the Corey Pavin of my group,” Woods said Wednesday. “Those guys will be bombing it way out there past me.”
Johnson (311.8 yards per drive) is the second longest driver on Tour behind Bubba Watson (313.5). Woodland (299.5) is eighth. Woods (297.9) is 13th. Woodland, it should be noted, is longer than his stats indicate. He doesn’t hit as many drivers as he could.
It's not lost on Woods that both Johnson and Woodland are athletic beyond golf.
'The next two days is a perfect example of where the game has changed, where you've got two guys who used to play basketball who are now playing golf and that's what I've been alluding to all these years,” Woods said. “We are finally going to get athletes. Guys who can dunk, guys who could have played baseball or could have played football at the D1 level, but no, they are playing play golf instead. Now, with all of that speed and power and fast twitch . . . are now playing golf. And this is a perfect example of it. '
Woods (294.8) was the second longest hitter on the PGA Tour in 1997, his first full season as a pro. John Daly (302) was first. Woods said he can dial his power up, but . . .
'I don't have the gears that those guys do. When I hit it solid and they hit it solid, obviously, they are going to be longer. If I step on it and they step on it, they are still going to be longer.'