Tiger Woods has no concerns over his preparation for the PGA Championship. He’s in a confident mood as he chases a 16th major title.
Woods has only made one competitive appearance since the PGA Tour resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic in June — the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village.
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In his long-awaited return last month, Woods finished 15 strokes adrift of champion Jon Rahm and tied for 40th. The former world No. 1 struggled with a stiff back that has proven troublesome in recent years following surgery.
Woods is now in San Francisco for the PGA at TPC Harding Park, where the four-time winner will play alongside Rory McIlroy and new No. 1 Justin Thomas in Thursday’s opening round (11:33 a.m. ET tee time) behind closed doors because of COVID-19.
The 44-year-old Woods shrugged off the lack of spectators for the first major of 2020, telling reporters: “As far as the focus part of it, I haven’t had a problem with that. Those four [Memorial] rounds, I was pretty into it.
“It’s different than most of the times when you go from green-to-tee, people yelling or trying to touch you. That part is different. As far as energy while I’m competing and playing, no, that’s the same. I’m pretty intense when I play and pretty into what I’m doing.
“I don’t know if anyone in our generation has ever played without fans in a major championship. It’s going to be very different. But it’s still a major championship. It’s still the best players in the world. We all understand that going into it, so there’s going to be plenty of energy from the competitive side.”
Woods added: “I feel good. Obviously I haven’t played much competitively, but I’ve been playing a lot at home. So I’ve been getting plenty of reps that way . . . the results that I’ve seen at home, very enthusiastic about some of the changes I’ve made and so that’s been positive.
“Just trying to get my way back into this part of the season. This is what I’ve been gearing up for. We’ve got a lot of big events starting from here, so looking forward to it. This is going to be a fun test for all of us. The rough is up. Fairways are much narrower than they were here in 2009.”
Brooks Koepka will start his bid for a PGA Championship three-peat alongside fellow American Gary Woodland and Irishman Shane Lowry at 11:11 ET, 22 minutes before Woods is scheduled to tee off.
Dethroned world No. 1 Rahm, 2005 champion Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia have been grouped together and will get their campaigns underway at 4:58 p.m. ET, while Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson comprise another notable group.
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