Tiger Woods on the state of his game, PGA Tour-PIF negotiations and that goatee

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Tiger Woods remembers the feeling of walking in his birdie putt at the 16th hole at the 2000 PGA Championship en route to a playoff victory over Bob May that marked his third straight major triumph.

“I just remember the pressure that I felt, the chance, an opportunity to do something that Ben Hogan did in 1953,” Woods said on Wednesday during his pre-tournament press conference ahead of his 24th career start at the PGA Championship. “With all of that pressure and we kept feeding off of one another. He would make a putt, I would make a putt, I would make a putt, he would make a putt. It was a fun back nine.

“We never really missed shots on that back nine and then in the three-hole playoff. For us to shoot those low of scores, it was special.”

Woods would like to rediscover some of that old magic as he pursues his 16th major championship and a fifth PGA Championship title this week at Valhalla Golf Club. But he also is quick to point out that that was a long time ago and the course, which will play over 7,600 yards, has changed a lot over the years.

“We were talking last week when we came up (about) how many 2-irons I used to hit off this property. Now it’s, everything is drivers. Just because they moved it back, it’s longer. But the first hole I hit driver and a 60-degree sand wedge in there. Today I hit a driver and a 5-wood. So it’s a bit different.”

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Here are four more things to know from Tiger’s pre-tournament press conference.

State of his game

Tiger hasn’t played since the Masters, where he made the cut but ran out of gas on the weekend. Asked to assess the state of his game, he said, “I wish my game was a little bit sharper. Again, I don’t have a lot of competitive reps, so I am having to rely on my practice sessions and getting stuff done either at home or here on-site.” Tiger came here last week on a scouting trip and returned to practice on Sunday and Monday to take advantage of the better weather before the rain hit on Tuesday. He also pointed out that the course isn’t as difficult of a walk compared to Augusta National – “just stay out of the rough,” he said – and feels he can still stoke memories of his 2000 win. “I still feel that I can win golf tournaments,” he said. “I still feel I can hit the shots and still feel like I still have my hand around the greens and I can putt. I just need to do it for all four days, not like I did at Augusta for only two.” He added: “At the end of the day, I need to be ready mentally and physically come Thursday.”

PGA Tour-PIF negotiations

Genesis Open
Genesis Open

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan (L) meets with Tiger Woods during the Pro-Am of the Genesis Open at the Riviera Country Club on February 14, 2018, in Pacific Palisades, California. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

As a member of the PGA Tour Policy Board and with his role on the newly-created Transaction Subcommittee, Tiger knew he would be bombarded with questions about negotiations with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and he was ready to say very little. He kept the good stuff close to his Sun Day Red vest. But here’s what he did share: “We’re working on negotiations with PIF. It’s ongoing; it’s fluid; it changes day to day. Has there been progress? Yes. But it’s an ongoing negotiation, so a lot of work ahead for all of us with this process, and so we’re making steps and it may not be giant steps, but we’re making steps.” On seeing the future of golf differently than Rory McIlroy: it’s good to see it differently, but collectively as a whole we want to see whatever’s best for all the players, the fans, and the state of golf. How we get there, that’s to be determined, but the fact that we’re in this together and in this fight together to make golf better is what it’s all about.” On Jimmy Dunne’s resignation from the PGA Tour Policy Board yesterday: “It was a bit surprising that he resigned yesterday and just how it all came about, but, no, his role and his help, then what he’s been able to do for the PGA Tour has been great.” On fans tuning out pro golf amidst the turbulence between the Tour and LIV: “I think the fans are probably as tired as we are of the talk of not being about the game of golf and about not being about the players. It’s about what LIV is doing, what we’re doing, players coming back, players leaving, the fans just want to see us play together. How do we get there is to be determined. “

U.S. Ryder Cup captaincy – still TBD

If you bet on the next U.S. Ryder Cup captain being announced officially this week, well, you can rip up your ticket. Tiger confirmed he’s had discussions since the Masters with PGA CEO Seth Waugh but no decision has been made yet. “We’re still talking. There’s nothing that has been confirmed yet. We’re still working on what that might look like. Also whether or not I have the time to do it,” he said. “I’m dedicating my so much time to what we’re doing with the PGA Tour, I don’t want to not fulfill the role of the captaincy if I can’t do it. What that all entails and representing Team USA and the commitments to the PGA of America, the players, and the fans and as I said, all of Team USA. I need to feel that I can give the amount of time that it deserves.” Tiger did not disclose a timetable on making this decision.

And the goatee?

Tiger Woods at a press conference prior to the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club.

Tiger was told that the Internet was loving his facial hair, which he showed up with this week at Valhalla. Asked if the goatee was a conscious decision or laziness, he laughed and said, “It’s the second. I’m definitely lazy. I cut myself this morning trying to trim it up so it is what it is.” Tiger Woods, just like us.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek