Woods is coming off poor finish at U.S. Open
After fading at the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods arrived at the AT&T National on Tuesday and was posed the major question, in many different forms.
It's been four years since he won the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Since then Woods has captured eight PGA Tour events, including six leading into majors, but has yet to add to his total of 14 majors, four shy of the hallowed mark of Jack Nicklaus.
"Majors are a harder event because, one, you're going to have the best fields, and two, you're going to have the most difficult setups that we play all year," Woods said. "Three of the four rotate, so you don't get the consistency. Even Augusta, they seem to change it most years."
|When » Thursday-Sunday|
|Where » Congressional Country Club|
|TV » Golf Channel, CBS|
But weren't those things were true from 1997-2008 when Woods was winning majors at an unparalleled rate? Woods pointed out on Tuesday that each of his swing changes has been followed by a majorless period. He has spent nearly two years under the tutelage of Sean Foley, learning a swing that puts less stress on his surgically repaired left knee. As Woods has worked to master the swing, he's neglected his putting and chipping.
"I would say certainly my short game has been something that has taken a hit," Woods said. "It did the same thing when I was working with Butch [Harmon] and the same thing when I was working with Hank [Haney]."
Thursday when Woods tees off in the AT&T National, he looks for improvement in his short game. He ranks No. 2 in total driving and ninth in greens in regulation, indicating his full swing is in sound shape. But ranking 26th in strokes gained putting, 40th in scrambling and 97th in sand save percentage is not like Tiger. His short-game woes were apparent at the U.S. Open.
"I didn't particularly chip or putt well," Woods said. "Obviously at the Open, that's just one of the things you have to do, and I didn't do that. I didn't make anything from 15 or 20 feet."
After missing the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional with an injury, Woods is anxious to play the course again. The last time Woods competed here, he won the 2009 AT&T National. In the opening round, he sank putts that totaled 146 feet on his way to a 64.
After Rory McIlroy torched soft Congressional to the tune of 16-under par last year at the Open, the course has regained its teeth according to several players who practiced on Monday and Tuesday.
"I've played here when it's been soft. I've played here when it's been fast, and it does change quite a bit," Woods said. "You don't realize when it gets quick how pitched some of these fairways are, and especially these greens, how much they slope from back to front."
Woods is also happy to be back at Congressional in hopes the tournament can gain some traction. With Woods sitting out with injuries in 2008 and 2011, and with a move to Philadelphia and back, the AT&T National has had little stability.
"We wanted to come back and be a part of this community," Woods said. "We've had a significant impact because of Congressional, and we'd like to continue that. Obviously we're here through , and we'll see going forward."