PGA Championship 2018

Golf: Tiger Woods gets all the attention

Rain or shine, Tiger Woods (during Tuesday's practice round) has all the reasons in the world to smile despite being without a Major title in decade. Even multiple winners can be ignored by the media when he is around.
Rain or shine, Tiger Woods (during Tuesday's practice round) has all the reasons in the world to smile despite being without a Major title in decade. Even multiple winners can be ignored by the media when he is around.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Media questions for other golfers focus, instead, on Woods' impact on their careers

ST LOUIS (Missouri) • It was not so much media day at the 100th PGA Championship on Tuesday as Tiger Woods Day.

If there was any question about whether the golf world still revolves around the 42-year-old surgically repaired American without a Major title in a decade, one only needed to peek into the Bellerive Country Club media room for an answer.

From a morning start to an evening finish, the thread connecting the day's agenda was a familiar one - Tiger Woods.

Francesco Molinari was given the courtesy of a few questions about the impact of his historic British Open win at Carnoustie last month - the first Major triumph by an Italian - but the media did not want to know how it felt to hoist the Claret Jug so much as what it was like playing the final round with Woods.

"What sort of an influence has he (Woods) been on you?" the 35-year-old was also asked.

"I think, in my generation, we were all looking up to him, especially around 2000, 2001, 2002," offered an unruffled Molinari.

  • TEE TIMES 

  • (selected, USA unless stated) 

    1ST TEE 

    8:56pm Jimmy Walker

    9.07pm Bryson DeChambeau, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 

    Tomorrow, 1.42am: Alex Noren (Swe), Matt Kuchar 

    1.53am Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott (Aus)

    2.04am Tommy Fleetwood (Eng), Marc Leishman (Aus) 

    2.15am Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 

    2.26am Sergio Garcia (Esp) 

    2.37am Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm (Esp), Justin Rose (Eng) 

    10TH TEE

    8.06pm Li Haotong (Chn) 

    8.39pm Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 

    8.50pm Henrik Stenson (Swe) 

    9.01pm Phil Mickelson, Jason Day (Aus)

    9.23pm Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy (Nir), Tiger Woods

    AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"He's been a model and an idol for me growing up, and it's nice to see him back playing good golf, and hopefully we'll be paired together late on Sunday again this week."

There are 156 golfers teeing it up at the year's final Major and it is likely every one of them has, at one time or another, been asked about Woods' impact on their careers.

Of the eight golfers to take questions on Tuesday, six were asked about or mentioned Woods. Most of the questions were familiar and the answers more so.

At any golf tournament, Rory McIlroy, a four-time Major winner, is the main attraction except when Woods is also competing.

"There's a lot of different layers to what Tiger has to go through to win again," said McIlroy.

"He just had his fourth back surgery, so to get to this point is a phenomenal achievement already. But, as we saw at the last Major a few weeks ago, he's right there, which is an unbelievable achievement."

For all the talk about Woods, age has inevitably caught up with him. He needed a Monday off this week to rest his weary body

Woods, who finished tied-31st at last week's WGC Bridgestone Invitational, said: "I spent a few times in the ice bath just trying to get some inflammation down and just trying to get ready for the rest of the week.

"There are going to be certain days I'm just not going to have the speed and the flexibility and the movement I once did. I'm 42 so things are going to be different from day to day, and it's just about managing it."

Woods had not seen the Bellerive layout since 2001 when a WGC event was cancelled after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks. So he was undone when showers cut his Tuesday practice round to five holes.

But he has learnt to accept limitations and compromises to stay healthy, including a new swing motion to allow for his repaired back.

"It's just what my limitations are going to be. And, as the year has progressed, I've learnt some of those things. But I'm still able to hit the majority of my shots," he said.

  • The contenders

  • JUSTIN ROSE (ENG), 38

     • World ranking: 3

     • Majors won: US Open (2013)

     • Best PGA C'ship result: Joint-third, 2012 

    Rose has won PGA Tour titles this season at the World Golf Championships event in Shanghai as well as the Fort Worth Invitational in May. He has not finished a Tour event outside the top 10 since the Players Championship in May. But his best result at this Major was a share of third in 2012. He has missed the cut six times, including last year at Quail Hollow. But he is on a solid run and should not be overlooked.

    RORY MCILROY (NIR), 29

     • World ranking: 5

     • Majors won: US Open (2011), The Open (2014), PGA C'ship (2012, 2014)

     • Best PGA C'ship result: Winner (2012, 2014)

    He has not won a Major title since the 2014 PGA Championship. He has, however, been playing well lately, ending an 18-month drought on the PGA Tour in March by winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He shared fifth place at the Masters and second in The Open Championship, giving him eight top-10 finishes in 14 Major starts since his 2014 PGA triumph.

    JORDAN SPIETH (USA), 25

     • World ranking: 8

     • Majors won: Masters (2015), US Open (2015), The Open (2017)

     • Best PGA C'ship result: Runner-up (2015)

    Aiming to complete a career Grand Slam, Spieth has shown flashes of his once-formidable putting skills after taking third at this year's Masters and sharing ninth at The Open last month. It has been 13 months since his last title, the 2017 Open, but he is a formidable competitor and the chance for a historic victory in the Centennial PGA - the last before it moves to May next year - beckons. 

    AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"I've had to learn a golf swing that is restricted. I've never had a spinal restriction before and having a fixed point in my spine is very different."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2018, with the headline 'Tiger gets all the attention'. Print Edition | Subscribe