Tiger Woods welcomes the PGA Tour to his AT&T National tournament at Congressional Country Club near Washington DC tomorrow looking to be the worst host possible.
The world number one will for the third year stage a tournament at the Bethesda, Maryland, course to benefit his Tiger Woods Foundation and pay respects to his late father Earl Woods by saluting the servicemen and women of the United States Armed Forces on the July 4 weekend.
Woods, who grew up as part of a military family while his father served in the US Army and Special Forces, is looking to win the AT&T National for the first time in its third year.
He does, however, know what it feels like to win one of his own events having landed his Target World Challenge tournament staged in California every December four times and finished second three times in its eight-year history.
Woods missed both his events last year as he recuperated from reconstructive knee surgery but he said he was raring to make amends at Congressional this weekend.
“I always put in as much as I possibly can to win an event,” he said. “Certainly I love being the gritty host.
“It is fun winning your own event. It’s no doubt, it is awfully fun to do that. Hopefully I can do that again this week.”
Woods, though, is relishing the opportunity to prepare for his next bid to land a 15th major of his professional career and move closer to Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 victories.
His next two chances come at the Open Championship at Turnberry in two weeks and three weeks later at the US PGA Championship at Hazeltine in Minnesota.
“Looking forward to the next two,” Woods said.
“I’ve never played Turnberry, so looking forward to getting there and playing. Hazeltine has been a while, but I came close there, and I like Hazeltine.
“As far as getting ready for Turnberry... I’ve only seen it on TV. The last time was in ’94.
“There’s only so much you can see on videotape. I’ll have to get there in person.
“But the whole idea before I get there is actually to have everything dialled in, feel comfortable with my swing, short putting, everything dialled in.
“Then start getting the feel for how to play over there. Then you’ve got to get your sight lines, and all that means is I have to do more homework once I get there and do more prep work on the greens and make sure I truly understand how to play the golf course and have a game plan come Thursday.”
Woods, a two-time winner this year, was disappointed not to have retained his US Open title at Bethpage 10 days ago, finishing four shots behind Lucas Glover in a tie for sixth place.
“I hit the ball really well and I made nothing,” he said.
“I didn’t have my speed right, and I hit a lot of putts that lipped out, and when you’re putting well, they lip in and when you’re putting poorly or don’t have the speed right, they’re lipping out, and so many of my putts burned on the high side or lipped out on the low side.
“I just didn’t quite have it right. And consequently I didn’t win the tournament.”
Having battle through almost constant rain at New York’s Bethpage Black, the world number one is looking forward to more favourable conditions at Congressional this weekend.
“The golf course is in great shape...I think it’s certainly drier than Bethpage, but we’re looking forward to getting out there and competing,” he said.
Woods will have to get the better of defending champion Anthony Kim, who is coming off a top 20 finish at Bethpage and a tie for 11th at last week’s Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
“I’m definitely feeling pretty healthy coming in, as healthy as I’ve felt all year,” Kim said.
“It’s been progressively getting better from the US Open on, and last week I had a pretty solid week, even though I didn’t finish the way I wanted to. Showed a lot of promise, and looking forward to having a chance to defend this week and have some fun.”
World number three Paul Casey also returns to action this week, the Englishman having missed the cut at Bethpage Black, his first MC of a year which has brought victories in Abu Dhabi, Houston and at Wentworth in the BMW PGA Championship.