MAMARONECK, N.Y. (AP) - Tiger Woods hit his tee shot on the first hole at Winged Golf Club down the middle, played his approach to the green then wandered off into the rough grown extra long for this week's PGA Championship.
He took a ball from his pocket, tossed it into the tangled grass and watched it disappear from sight. He tossed another ball and it too vanished.
"I could hit it if I was going that way," Woods with a laugh, taking a stance that aimed back down the fairway toward the tee, which was the way the grain of the grass was growing.
Never more than a stride away from Woods at any time during the nine-hole practice round Monday was Butch Harmon, his coach and the famed teacher whose father was the professional at Winged Foot for 33 years.
Harmon watched with amusement as Woods tossed the balls into the rough and saw them disappear. Then he leaned over and offered Woods wise advice from his years around Winged Foot.
"Better keep it in the fairway," Harmon said.
Both men roared with laughter, but there were no wiser words for this week's PGA.
The rough is up at Winged Foot - the PGA says to 41/2 inches but it was more like a half-foot in many places - and the fairways have been narrowed. As always, the fairways and greens are guarded by towering trees and massive bunkers.
The greens are narrow targets with extremely fast and severely sloped contours. Big greens, course architect A.W. Tillinghast believed, lead to "slovenly golf."
It will take extremely lean and mean golf to get under par this week at Winged Foot. Missing the fairway will lead to real adventures.
On Monday, Brad Faxon's tee shot on the first hole landed in the right rough and it took a half dozen people five minutes to even find the ball.
Jose Maria Olazabal drove into the rough on No. 4, about 210 yards from the green, took a powerful swing at his second shot and was able to advance the ball only about 80 yards as tangled grass flew.
On the fifth hole, Olazabal tried to pitch back to the fairway from the left rough but bounded the ball through the short grass into the right rough.
Woods, at least, had the benefit of a guide. And while Harmon was advising Woods to stay out of the rough, he was also preparing him for the inevitability of the large, deep greenside bunkers.
On each hole, Woods tossed balls into the sand and practiced blasting out.
"Better watch that take away," Harmon said as Woods hit from the greenside bunker on No. 3. "Keep it steep."
A steep arc gets the ball high and over the steep lips of the bunkers at Winged Foot.
"And notice how the sand is not so deep," Harmon pointed out to Woods. "It'll pop right out of there."
Harmon, who grew up on the course while his father was the professional from 1945-78, was greeted with constant calls of "Hey, Butch" followed by a smile and a warm handshake.
"It feels good to be here," Harmon said. "It's like going home."
Harmon's homecoming could be a big advantage for Woods this week. He knows every corner of the course.
As Woods's caddie, Fluff Cowan, eyed the back of the second green for the likely Sunday pin position, Harmon yelled, "Fluff, six more up and one to the right."
Cowan paced it off and held the flagstick over an imaginary hole as Woods practiced chipping to it from the rough.
"Oh man, that one's a killer," Harmon said about the pin position.
By the time Thursday's first round comes, Harmon will have taught Woods every killer spot on the course. Then it will be just a matter of execution.
DIVOTS: John Daly, the 1991 PGA champion, is accompanied by sports psychologist Dave Striegel. Daly, a reformed alcoholic, is trying to cut down on nicotine, caffeine and sugar consumption. ... Tom Kite said Winged Foot might actually be more difficult when the rough is short and shots can roll into the bunkers and into the trees. "But that is some serious rough," he said. ... Jumbo Ozaki withdrew because of a sore right foot. ... Tony Navarro, caddie for Greg Norman, walked the course without his player.
© 2017. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us