Woods Eager For Return to Action
But the biggest change was more subtle.
Woods began his pro-am round at the Tour Championship on the 10th tee. He usually is the first one off on the first tee, a perk he has been afforded the last five years. But the first tee was occupied Tuesday by Vijay Singh, who is firmly entrenched at No. 1 in the world.
Then, Woods had to wait for Singh to finish his interview before he could step to the microphone. And once Woods finished talking about his three-week honeymoon on a 150-foot yacht in the Caribbean, he was bombarded with questions about Singh - just like so many other players who for years grew weary talking about Woods.
'He's played some just unbelievable golf this year,' Woods said. 'For him to play as much as he does and still maintain that edge, and as much as he practices, it's pretty impressive to do all that.'
Woods still has eight majors. He is the only professional to hold all four major championship trophies at the same time. He has won more tournaments than anyone else still playing.
But he now is just one of the 31 players at the Tour Championship trying to end his year on a good note. Children still ran after him for his autograph when he arrived at East Lake. He still had more people in his gallery than any other players. If television ratings go up this week, Woods will be the reason.
Still, he now looks like one of the guys - and not just because he's married.
'The fear factor is gone,' one caddie said on the practice range as he watched Woods warm up.
The last time Woods and Singh played together was outside Boston on Labor Day, when the 41-year-old Fijian won a thrilling back-nine duel in the Deutsche Bank Championship to end Woods' five-year reign at No. 1 in the world.
Since then, Woods had a disastrous pairing with Phil Mickelson and another losing record in the Ryder Cup. He barely made it through 72 holes of the American Express Championship with a back injury. And he got married Oct. 5 in Barbados to Swedish nanny Elin Nordegren.
And since becoming No. 1 in the world, Singh has won three times and was runner-up in his other PGA Tour start.
It reminds Woods of the last time someone else was No. 1 in the world - David Duval, who won 11 times in 18 months and became the first man to shoot 59 in the final round of a PGA Tour event.
'Everybody has a run,' Woods said. 'I had one. Duval had one. Johnny Miller, (Jack) Nicklaus, (Tom) Watson, everyone has their run. It's just a matter of how long can you continue. Fortunately for me, I lasted five years.'
The question is how long Singh can keep this up - and whether Woods can come back.
Woods had such a good time in the Caribbean that he skipped Disney for the first time since turning pro, and he nearly called it a year by not playing in the Tour Championship.
Let's see - he's on a private yacht with his Swedish bride, with no one to bother him but the U.S. Coast Guard. Why even bother coming back for one tournament?
'Trust me,' Woods said with a big grin. 'That thought went through my head a lot of times.'
Eventually, the honeymoon has to end.
'I miss competing,' Woods said. 'That's what I love to do.'
He hasn't been shown much love in return.
Woods' only victory this year is the Accenture Match Play Championship at La Costa at the end of February. His drought in the majors is 10 and counting. He is No. 3 in the world ranking, No. 4 on the money list.
But even on the open sea, Woods still found room for golf.
'When I was on the boat, I was actually thinking about my game quite a bit and organizing my 'To Do' list - what causes what in the golf swing, and basically prioritizing what I needed to work on,' Woods said.
He thought his game was close before he got married.
Woods was runner-up at Firestone to Stewart Cink. He was runner-up to Singh at Deutsche Bank. He was going for his third straight title in the American Express Championship until injuring his back.
'I was so excited when I got over there, and then I couldn't move,' Woods said. 'I thought that the way I played in finishing ninth there, with limited ability to play the game, I thought I had a chance to come back and do some pretty good things.'
Woods has been saying all year his game is close, and not many believed him. Count Masters champion Phil Mickelson among those who do. Lefty came off his worst year on tour by winning his first major and coming within five shots of winning all four of them.
'I got re-motivated, excited about working hard, came out and had a wonderful year,' Mickelson said. 'And I think that Tiger is going to do the same thing. I expect him to be the dominant force that he's been in the past.'
This being the present, about all Woods can do at East Lake is end a weak year on a strong note.
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Woods: New putter should help on slower greens
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods’ ice-cold putting showed at least a few signs of heating up earlier this month at The National, where he switched putters and ranked seventh in the field on the greens.
The mallet-style putter is still in the bag as Woods prepares for The Open, and he’s hoping the heavier model with grooves will prove valuable at Carnoustie.
“To be honest with you, I’ve struggled on slower greens throughout my entire career,” Woods said Tuesday. “So for me, it’s going to help on these greens, for sure.”
To combat the slower greens, Woods usually applied a strip of lead tape to his putter. But this heavier model of putter doesn’t need the extra weight, and the grooves on the putter face allow the ball to get rolling faster and hotter.
“You don’t necessarily have to do that with the grooves,” he said of the lead tape. “When I putted with the Nike putter, I didn’t have to put lead tape on the putter to get a little more weight to it. I could just leave it just the way it was. This is the same type.”
For all of the talk about his putting woes this season, Woods still ranks 56th in strokes gained: putting. More crucial this week: He’s 102nd in approach putt performance, which quantifies how well a player lag putts.
Woods: Open best chance for long-term major success
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods is more than a decade removed from his last major title, but he said Tuesday that The Open is the major that gives him the best chance for long-term success.
“I would say yes, because of the fact that you don’t have to be long to play on a links-style golf course,” Woods said during his pre-tournament news conference. “It certainly can be done.”
Woods pointed to the late-career success for both Greg Norman (2008) and Tom Watson (2009), both of whom challenged for the claret jug deep into their 50s.
“Distance becomes a moot point on a links-style golf course,” he said.
That’s certainly not the case, however, at the Masters, where bombers long have thrived, or the U.S. Open, which places a premium on long and straight driving.
“You get to places like Augusta National, which is just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately,” he said. “But links-style courses, you can roll the ball. I hit a 3-iron that went down there 330. Even if I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.”
"Vantage Point with Mike Tirico" set to debut Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel
Special Hour Complementing the Network’s Week-Long Golf Central Live From The Open News Coverage; Premiere Scheduled to Include Interview with 2014 Open Runner-Up Rickie Fowler On-Site from Carnoustie
Features Include Tirico and Curtis Strange Re-watching ’99 Open at Carnoustie & Jim “Bones” Mackay Facilitating Exclusive Conversation with Caddies Michael Greller, John Wood Recounting Final Round Pairing at 2017 Open
To help set the table ahead of The 147TH Open at Carnoustie, Golf Channel will premiere Vantage Point with Mike Tirico on Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET. An extension of the network’s week-long Golf Central Live From The Open comprehensive news coverage, Vantage Point will revisit landmark moments in The Open’s history, uncover personal stories relevant to the fabric of the week and feature a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year” on golf’s original championship.
“It’s a thrill to be going back to The Open again this year, which is a fitting setting to launch this new opportunity,” said Tirico, NBC Sports host who this week will celebrate his 22nd consecutive year covering The Open. “I love being a part of the Golf Channel team during golf’s biggest weeks, and anticipate contributing to our commitment to great storytelling with Vantage Point.”
Kicking off the premiere of Vantage Point will be Tirico’s exclusive interview with 2014 Open runner-up and 2015 PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler on-site from Carnoustie. One of Fowler’s favorite events, he has missed just one cut in eight previous appearances at The Open. Other highlights within the show include:
- Jim “Bones” Mackay facilitating an exclusive conversation between caddies Michael Greller (Jordan Spieth) and John Wood (Matt Kuchar) recounting the final round pairing at The Open last July.
- Tirico hosting a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year”: David Duval, Tom Lehman and Justin Leonard.
- A recollection of one of the most unforgettable collapses in major championship golf, when Jean van de Velde surrendered a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole in 1999 at The Open. Tirico and Curtis Strange – both on the live tournament broadcast that year for ABC/ESPN – recently re-watched the telecast together for the first time since calling it live.
“This is harder to watch than I thought it was going to be. I’ve never seen anything like
that in my life. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that again.” – Curtis Strange
“I think I got caught up in the whole deal and felt human for the guy.” – Mike Tirico
Vantage Point with Mike Tirico will complement the network’s Golf Central Live From The Open, which will feature nearly 60 hours of comprehensive news coverage from Carnoustie. In total, NBC Sports will dedicate more than 350 hours to showcasing the third men’s major championship of the year, including nearly 50 live hours of the network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage – annually the most live hours of coverage from any golf event – spanning from Thursday’s opening tee shot to Sunday’s final putt.
How to watch The Open on TV and online
You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.
Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie
In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.
Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:
(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)
Monday, July 16
GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)
GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)
GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)
Tuesday, July 17
GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)
Wednesday, July 18
GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)
Thursday, July 19
GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)
GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)
GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)
GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)
GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)
GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)
Friday, July 20
GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)
GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)
GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)
GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)
GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)
Saturday, July 21
GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)
NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)
GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)
GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)
GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)
GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)
Sunday, July 22
GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)
NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)
GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)
GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)
GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)
GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)