Golf

Tiger Woods rested and raring to go as he eyes 16th Major title

Tiger Woods walked into the media interview room at the PGA Championship on Tuesday clutching a cup of hot coffee on a cool New York morning.

He hopes to be holding something far more valuable on Monday - the Wanamaker Trophy awarded to the winner of the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.

Judging by his words, the 43-year-old is in fine fettle as he prepares for his first tournament start since his Masters victory exactly one month ago.

Woods raised some eyebrows when he skipped the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago, thereby ensuring he would turn up this week without any competitive action between Augusta and Bethpage.

On Tuesday, he erased concerns that there might be any physical issues behind his decision to play back-to-back Majors without a tune-up gallop in between.

"I wasn't ready yet to start the grind of practising," he said.

"I was feeling good in the gym, but I wasn't prepared to log in the hours.

"Coming here is a different story... I feel rested and ready. I've done a lot of hard work already trying to find my game over the past year-and-a-half. Now it's just maintaining it."

Woods' Masters victory came two years after a spinal fusion that resurrected a career in danger of ending prematurely.

GREAT COMEBACK

Instead, he notched one of the great comebacks of sporting history, ending a decade-long Major drought and collecting his 15th Major title.

Northern Ireland's four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy said on Tuesday: "I still don't think people understand what he did in April, with everything that he's been through.

"From what I've experienced and the things that he said when I've been around him... that's unbelievable."

Three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington, meanwhile, was impressed with the way Woods played within himself and closed out his one-shot Masters win in clinical fashion.

The Irishman said: "He wasn't interested in proving to the world that he's a good driver of the ball or anything like that.

"He just was interested in getting the job done."

Woods, for his part, knows he has to play and practise without pushing his body too hard.

He said: "That's the fickle nature of having my back fused.

"I can't spend every day working on every part of my game, so I spend a lot of time on my short game, pitching and putting.

"I don't load the body like I used to and be explosive on the range. Those days are gone."

- REUTERS

Golf