SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — On Tuesday, Tiger Woods flashed back to what it was like before COVID-19 forced fans from the course during a PGA Tour Event.
It was 2005. Woods and John Daly were locked in a duel at the WGC-American Express Championship that whipped the Harding Park crowd into a frenzy, more reminence of a rock concert than a golf tournament.
Woods would later call the environment electric.
“You couldn’t have put two of the more crowd-drawing people together in a playoff,” Woods said during a pre-tourney Zoom call Tuesday. “Myself and John Daly. It was loud. The people were into it. It was a lot of fun. I still look back on it. I just didn’t want it to end the way it ended. In that playoff, the way we were playing, we should have continued. It was just an unfortunate way to end it.”
On the second playoff hole, Daly had a 15-foot birdie putt to win. He missed, and then he missed the 3-foot par putt. Woods would par to win his 10th World Golf Championship and widened his gap at No. 1 in the world at the time.
Now, Woods is preparing for this week’s PGA Championship at the since redesigned TPC Harding Park. COVID-19 cases are on the rise in California. There will be no boisterious crowds. Daly has withdrawn over his personal fears of COVID-19 exposure.
When asked how it will feel to play a major championship without fans, Woods is left to wonder like all his fellow competitors.
“That’s an unknown,” he said. “I don’t know if anyone in our generation has 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 and we all understand that going into it.”
“There will be plenty of energy from the competitive side. But as far as energy outside the ropes, that is an unknown.”
The weather forecast for the week is typical San Francisco summer weather — damn, cold marine layer in the morning, gradually burning off during the day. It’s a forecast Woods is familiar with having played collegiately at nearby Stanford.
“For me, when it’s cooler like this, it’s important to make sure my (body) core stays warm,” he said. “I know that I won’t have the same range of motion that I would have back home in Florida where it’s 95 every day. That’s just the way it is.”
“Talking with some of the guys yesterday, they were laughing at their trackman numbers already,” he added. “(They don’t) have the swing speed and ball speed they did last week. It’s (the course) going to be playing longer. It’s heavy air. Whether the wind blows or not the ball still won’t fly very far here. I known that for all the years and times I’ve had to qualify (while being an amateur) up in this area. Marine layer, cool and windy — we are all going to have to deal with it.”
As for his game, Woods said he was been preparing for the grind of the final months of the PGA’s condensed schedule because of COVID-19 outbreak.
“I feel good,” he said. “I haven’t been playing much competitively, but I’ve been playing a lot at home. 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 got a lot of big events starting from here so I’m looking forward to it. This is going to be a fun test for all of us.”