Four-time PGA Championship winner, Tiger Woods insists the lack of competitive golf and playing without spectators will have little impact on his performance when the first major of the year tees off in San Francisco.
At a press briefing on Wednesday to announce the 102nd edition of PGA championship, Woods who will be competing for his 16th major title on a TPF Harding Park Course beamed with confidence when asked whether he can win this week.
“Of course,” he said with a smile.
The former world number one knows the course well but will have to cope with August temperatures he is unaccustomed to when cool San Francisco fog blankets the area.
The Florida resident, who got to know the course on the shores of Lake Merced when he played at nearby Stanford University in the mid-1990s, has said his surgically-repaired back can tighten up in colder weather.
“I think that for me when it’s cooler like this, I need to make sure that my core stays warm, layering up properly,” Woods told reporters.
“I know I won’t have the same range of motion as I would back home in Florida where it’s 95 degrees every day. That’s just the way it is.”
The famous San Francisco fog, which pours in from the Pacific Ocean in the summer, will likely be a bigger factor for the morning groups and Woods is scheduled to tee off on Thursday at 1:58 p.m. local time, when some of it may have burned off.
The fog, also called a marine layer, also keeps the ball from flying as far at the course, which is a challenging 7,251 yard par-70 municipal layout.
“It’s going to be playing longer. It’s heavy air whether the wind blows or not, but it’s still going to be heavy,” he said.
“I’ve known that from all the years and times I’ve had to qualify up in this area… I think the weather forecast is supposed to be like this all week – marine layer, cool, windy -and we are all going to have to deal with it.”
The course, which underwent a massive renovation in 2002-2003, is famous for its overhanging Cypress trees, narrow fairways and nasty rough, which rewards accuracy off the tee.
With the recent battle for supremacy, this year’s edition of the Championship will be competitive.
Jon Rahm’s reign as world number one lasted just two weeks but the Spaniard confirmed he expected the turnover at the top to be the norm going forward with nobody dominating the sport right now.
Rahm rose to the top with a win at the Memorial Tournament on July 19 but quickly lost the crown when Justin Thomas won the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Sunday (August 2).
“I think we are in an era right now where it’s going to be hard to have somebody distance themselves,” Rahm told reporters at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco where the first major of the year, the PGA Championship, kicks off on Thursday.
“When you have so many great players playing who go out at the same time, at any given point for two or three months one of us can get hot and take the number one spot. I think we might be entering an era where we bounce back and forth.”
The 25-year-old, who has never won a major but has been knocking on the door in recent years including being tied for third at last year’s U.S. Open, said it was an exciting time for golf and likened it to the battle at the top of men’s tennis.
“You have Rafa (Nadal), (Novak) Djokovic and (Roger) Federer who are competing at the same time. Who is (going to be) number one? You don’t know, it depends on who plays better that year.
“It’s going to be hard to have a Tiger-esque case right now because there’s so many players with so much talent and (they) are really, really good,” he said, referring to the 44-year-old, 15-time major champion Tiger Woods.
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