Tiger Woods is in a much better place for Memorial than he was at PGA

tiger woods Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Tiger Woods is in a much better place for Memorial than he was at PGA

Golf

Tiger Woods is in a much better place for Memorial than he was at PGA

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DUBLIN, Ohio – Jack and Barbara Nicklaus greeted Tiger Woods just before 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on the turn at the 10th tee during his round in the pro-am, Jack extending his right hand for a hearty congratulatory handshake, Barbara coming in for an emotional hug.

“He doesn’t come in from fishing for just anybody, so consider yourself really special,” Barbara said to Woods, alluding to her husband’s decision to stop fishing in the Bahamas to watch the back nine on Masters Sunday, when Woods won his fifth green jacket and 15th major. “That was great. I’m so proud of you.”

Woods was moved.

“That was special,” Woods said of seeing the Nicklauses for the first time since the Masters. After his victory, Woods received a note from Jack Nicklaus, who told the man chasing his major record that he knew the tournament was over when four contenders dumped balls into Rae’s Creek fronting the 12th green while Woods found the putting surface and then went on to win the green jacket.

“He said he called it,” Woods said. “He said the tournament swung in my favor right there at 12. That was discipline, that was smart, it was a veteran move, he wrote. That was pretty cool to read. And that’s what he told me again this morning, that he could see it on my face that I was going to win.”

The encounter with the Nicklauses was just a great part of the day for Woods. He teed off alongside two-time Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning. About a half an hour after he finished play, Woods watched as Stanford, where Woods played college golf and was the 1996 NCAA individual champion and won the NCAA Div. I Men’s Golf Championship. And Woods was just four days removed from raising more than $1 million for his foundation at his annual Tiger Jam in Las Vegas.

All in all, Woods said he’s in a much better place than where he was after missing the cut two weeks ago in the PGA Championship. He said he’s put on nearly all the weight he lost two weeks ago when an undisclosed illness struck two days before the start of the second major of the season.

Woods took three days off, then practiced hard for two days in Florida. The following day he played 18 holes at Pebble Beach, the site of his historical 2000 romp in the U.S. Open and next month’s U.S. Open.

Following Tiger Jam, Woods spent a good day practicing Monday before heading to the Memorial. He got in a late-evening practice session on Tuesday.

“I feel a lot better,” Woods said. “I just need to play a little bit more now. And hopefully it will be four solid days this week heading into the U.S. Open.”

Woods, 43, will need four solid days at Muirfield Village if he’s to topple a field that includes defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar.

Woods has won the Memorial a record five times, most recently in 2012. If he were to win his sixth this week, he’d tie Sam Snead’s record 82 PGA Tour titles.

While 18 is on Woods’ mind, so, too, is 82.

“To get into those numbers it takes longevity and hot years,” said Woods, who has won five or more tournaments in a single season 10 times. “You need multiple winning seasons and you need to do that for decades. That’s something I’m proud of. That’s not something that happens overnight. To be able to come this close to get to one behind Sam Snead has been pretty amazing. It’s been a pretty amazing run throughout my 20 some-odd years out here.”

 

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