Tiger targets success in ‘big ball park’

Tiger Woods heads to this week’s PGA Championship with a one win in 24 record on Pete Dye designed golf courses.

Since a visit to Scotland in 1963 Dye has designed or redesigned numerous golf courses.

But one thing’s certain, this week’s Kiawah Island at 7,676 yards will be one of the longest, and probably the windiest, in recent Major history.

Kiawah’s Ocean Course is 200 yards longer than Augusta National, 450 yards longer than Olympic where Webb Simpson won with the US Open with a two-over par tally.

And it is also 540-yards, and virtually a par five longer than Royal Lytham and St Annes and venue for last month’s Open Championship.

“At 7,700 yards plus Kiawah is a big ball park,” said Woods in finishing eighth in last week’s WGC — Bridgestone Invitational.

“That’s one of the reasons why it was nice to go to Kiawah last week before the Bridgestone, so that I don’t have to do any charting, and all I have to do is to go out there and play.

“Hopefully we will get a couple of different wind directions. The forecast is for rain early in the week so that will go and we can play some golf. But I would prefer it was hard, fast and windy as the golf course is designed for that.”

When you look at Woods’s winning record on courses designed by Dye to have staged Majors, WGCs or other major events, such as the Players Championship, he has won just once in some 24 showings.

That was in capturing the 2001 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

As Woods explained Pete Dye designed courses, such as Whistling Straits and venue for the 2010 PGA Championship and Crooked Stick where John Daly won the PGA in 1991, is all about carry, angles and bunkers.

“It’s just Pete and what he does with pot bunkers and alignments. When you have your carry numbers and you miss it, and don’t carry that number then you’re looking at bogey or double or worse,” said Woods.

“But if you do carry the number the fairway opens up some 40 to 50-yards.

“It’s different to TPC at Sawgrass. Way different. At Sawgrass you are playing to spots. At Kiawah you have the option of getting down there or laying back, and taking on different angles. Pete always make you challenge an angle. If you able to carry the ball on a right angle and carry that number then the golf course becomes so much easier.

“I love what JD (John Daly) did at Crooked Stick. But if you don’t you are going to start paying some prices.”

But the biggest difference this week for players will be the rule regarding the bunkers.

In stark contrast to two years ago at Whistling Straits where Dustin Johnson blew PGA glory by incurring a two-stroke penalty in grounding his club in a waste bunker, players will be able to ground their club in any sand area, no matter if it’s on the fairway or around the greens.

Woods said: “That was kind of… I felt bad for Dustin (Johnson) and I know what the rule is but under those circumstances it was kind of hard to tell.”

“But this year will be very different to Whistling Straits.

“You will be able to take different taking practice swings, but then all the bunkers are different anyway so you have to get a feel for all of them. They all have different amounts of sand. Some were washed out, some weren’t. Some were fluffy, some were hard pan.”

Five Irish will be competing this week including the Major winning foursome of Pádraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke, along with Michael Hoey who is making his PGA Championship debut.

For Harrington, it will be a welcome return and the site where in 1997 he teamed with Paul McGinley to deliver Ireland victory in the World Cup.


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