Woods determined to celebrate 21st PGA with a 16th Major victory

Fatiha Betscher

Tiger Woods (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Tiger Woods is quietly determined to celebrate a 21st PGA Championship appearance with a 16th Major Championship triumph.

Woods is returning to competition for only a fourth occasion this year and for just the second time since the lifting of the golfing lockdown in mid-June.

While much of the field for this week had not previously set foot on the host PC Harding Park course, Wood still has strong memories of the course having been a member of the victorious 2009 USA Presidents Cup side that won by five points there over the visiting International Team.

Woods was at his best, joining good friend Steve Stricker to win all four ‘team’ matches and then hand out a 6 & 5 thumping to South Korean Y.E. Yang in the Sunday Singles.

“I played it before the redo and they have come a long way since then, made it a championship site” said Woods.

“I had a great Presidents Cup under Captain Freddie (Couples). This brings back great memories of coming up here playing, whether it’s here at Harding or SF Club, Olympic or Lake Merced. We used to come up here and do qualifiers all the time.”

And while excited to be returning to the ‘Golden Gate Bridge’ City, Woods will tee-up having just played four rounds since the June 11th restart to the PGA Tour with a competitive scorecard in his back pocket.

So, while Woods is clearly lacking in competition rounds, you can never downplay his ability to lift his game as the world saw in April last year.

“I feel good. Obviously I haven’t played much competitively, but I’ve been playing a lot at home,” he said.

“So I’ve been getting plenty of reps that way. 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 more narrow than they were here in 2009.

“Don’t ask me for the routing because I’m still getting a little confused on the routing. Still trying to learn that part.”

And while Woods seeks to bring the gap between him and Jack Nicklaus down to just two majors, he will have to do it without spectators this week if he’s to capture what would be a fifth Rodman Wanamaker PGA Championship replica victory trophy and a first since 2007.

“It’s going to be unknown without having spectators,” he said.

“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.

“But as far as the energy outside the ropes, that is an unknown. Hopefully I can put myself in a position where I can feel what it’s like to have no fans coming down the stretch with a chance to win.”

Woods has been drawn for the opening two rounds to tee-up in the company of fellow former PGA Champions Rory McIlroy and current World No. 1 Justin Thomas.

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