Peter Cowen column: Tiger Woods sounds positive and looks like up for a big week

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It will be great to see one of my six players in the Major staying the distance

Today (Wednesday) is the final practice round for this week’s 104th USPGA Championship at Southern Hills CC, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Players, coaches, caddies, managers, family and everyone around the players try to keep the routine of a Major week, as if it is a normal tournament week, but this is not easy, with big crowds on practice days, heightened media demands and we all know it is a Major week as the excitement builds for everyone.

There are no Pro-Ams in the Majors, so today, all my six players are planning to play just nine holes to save their energy and be ready for the first round tomorrow.

I spoke to Tiger Woods whilst sharing a golf cart sitting on the range yesterday (Tuesday), and he told me he has not practised hard since The Masters.

As he gets older (now 46 years of age) he cannot make too many demands on his body, but that has given him so much more time to spend on his short game, which he claims is ‘pretty sharp.’

Tiger woods

Tiger is looking good, sounds positive and seemingly up for a big week.

The draw for Round One has been published and by all weather forecasts, it sounds like the wind will be up. It looks like the winds may be as strong as 31 km/h and temperatures over 30 degrees for some time during the first two days, it could well be that there may well be a ‘luck of the draw,’ factor, with one half of the draw lucky and the other half unlucky, for the first two rounds. That is often the name of the game for golf, most usually experienced at The Open.

Tee Times for tomorrow’s (Thursday) Round One for my players are as below
(All local Oklahoma time. nine hours behind UAE time):

Tee 1: Match 7 / 8.06 am Padraig Harrington (Ire).

Tee 1: Match 8 / 8.17 am Thomas Pieters (Bel).

Tee 10: Match 24 / 8.55 am Lee Westwood (Eng).

Tee 1: Match 30 / 1.03 pm Brooks Koepka (US).

Tee 1: Match 34 / 1.47 pm Ian Poulter (Eng).

Tee 1: Match 36 / 2.09 pm Matt Fitzpatrick (Eng).

The one match threatening to take all the crowds on Thursday is Match 20 at 8.11 am off Tee 10 when Jordan Spieth (US) is paired with Rory McIlroy (NI) and Tiger Woods (US). That will be one worth watching with 22 Majors between them!

The last Major win for one of my players was in 2019, when Brooks won the USPGA and Gary Woodland (US) the US Open. Thought for the day is that it would be great to see another winner from Europe, Shane Lowry (Ire) in The Open, again in 2019 was our last European Major champion.

– Peter Cowen, 71, a Dubai Golden Visa awardee, is one of the leading golf coaches of the world. A former DP World Tour professional, he has his Peter Cowen Academies in Dubai at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, Emirates Golf Club and Jumeirah Golf Estates. Cowen lives in England and his academies are headquartered in Rotherham.

PGA Championship: Stronger, better-prepared Tiger Woods says he can win it for fifth time
Walking is still a challenge, iconic golfer says as all eyes are on him at Southern Hills

Tulsa, Oklahoma: Tiger Woods’s comeback after nearly losing his leg in a car crash continues at the PGA Championship this week and the 46-year-old believes he is capable of hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy for a fifth time.

Very few athletes, especially ones returning from career-threatening injuries, can get away with such bravado, but Woods, as he has proven time and again, is no ordinary athlete.

Woods has long maintained he would never enter an event he did not feel he could win.

The 15-time major winner made the same assessment of his chances last month ahead of the Masters.

At that moment, however, it seemed barely credible, coming from someone who just 14 months earlier was laying in a hospital bed with doctors contemplating the amputation of his mangled leg.

An inspired Woods sent a jolt through the sporting world when he made the cut at Augusta National before running out of steam, closing with six-over 78s on Saturday and Sunday, his worst-ever scores at the Masters.

Back at Southern Hills where he won the 2007 PGA Championship, Woods says he is stronger, better prepared and now the only thing left is to “just go out there and do it”.

“I feel like I can (win) definitely,” Woods told reporters on Tuesday. “I have to do my work.

“I’ve gotten stronger since then (the Masters).

“But it’s still going to be sore and walking is a challenge. I can hit golf balls, but the challenge is walking.”

Living by the motto “no pain, no gain”, Woods took one day off following the Masters and over the five weeks leading up to the PGA Championship has continually increased his workload.

“He’s Tiger,” summed up world number two Jon Rahm. “He’s a competitor. He’s going to try to win every single time, and anytime he tees up, the world wants him to win.”

Whether Woods can win is open to debate but he, like everyone else, will be looking for signs of progress in the five weeks since the Masters, particularly in his endurance and putting, which he feels kept him from contending for another Green Jacket.

“I didn’t have the endurance that I wanted, I shouldn’t expect it (to win) because I didn’t earn it,” said Woods. “I hadn’t done the work.

“As the months pass and it’s going to get better.

“I feel like I’m doing better.

“Taking a step back and looking at the overall big picture of it, it (Masters) was an accomplishment.

“But that other side of me says if I would have done things differently, I could have challenged for that thing (Green Jacket).”

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