May9 Woods 17th @ Sawgrass

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Tiger Woods reckons the notorious island green 17th at Sawgrass is too gimmicky to make the event a Major.

As he prepares for this week’s Players’ Championship in Florida on a massively revamped course, the world number one said: “I’ve always thought that that hole is too gimmicky for the 17th hole of a championship. As far as the 8th hole, I think that would be a fantastic 8th hole, but not as the 71st hole of a tournament or 17th hole of your round.”

This is what else Woods had to say in his pre-event press conference:  

Q. Does Sawgrass look any different after all the changes?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it does. It looks very different. It’s faster, it’s drier. The fairways are obviously Bermuda now and so are the greens. So it is playing totally different.

Q. Better?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think so. We don’t have the balls picking up mud like we used to. These are not the greens you want to have mud on your ball firing into the greens.

Q. Did you hit any out of the rough today?
TIGER WOODS: I hit a couple, yeah.

Q. What was the ball like in there?
TIGER WOODS: Just like we play any other golf course with Bermuda rough, always hard to judge how far it’s going to go. The rough is a lot easier out of rye, but Bermuda grass just needs about two inches and you lose all control.

Q. Because they only capped the fairways, is there a chance, depending on weather, if you hit it in the rough you’ve got mud on your ball and you have no distance control? Could it be a really stark change?
TIGER WOODS: I don’t know. The shots that I hit in there, they didn’t really land softly, they bounced pretty far and I actually got a little bit of roll out of there while in the rough.

Q. With all the work they did here, would you have minded if they threw some dirt in at 17 and kind of filled in that water?
TIGER WOODS: You’d probably lose the allure of the hole. I’ve always thought that that hole is too gimmicky for the 17th hole of a championship. As far as the 8th hole, I think that would be a fantastic 8th hole, but not as the 71st hole of a tournament or 17th hole of your round.

Q. Of the holes that they added length, is 1 or 11 going to play more differently or tougher when it comes time on Thursday?
TIGER WOODS: Well, with the fairways running, 1 is the same. You’ve just got to run it out there the same distance.
11 is a little bit longer. Today it was playing downwind so we had a chance to drive it on with an iron, so it wasn’t too bad.

Q. They always talk about how this golf course doesn’t seem to favour any particular player as evidenced by like Funk and Scott winning back-to-back years, two totally different guys. After the changes, does that still hold true, or is it even more of a wildcard to try to predict —
TIGER WOODS: Anyone can win here. That’s the beauty of this golf course is that when you get — with all the angles, and Pete likes to funnel things down, we’re all playing from about the same spot. There really is no advantage to taking out driver and bombing it down there because of obviously the trouble but also how everything pitches in.

Q. Does the new date and the work they’ve done on the golf course open the door for this tournament to grow in any way, or did it have its niche before?
TIGER WOODS: I think it had, as you said, its own niche, but I think that this can only help it because of — we always had that huge gap between The Masters and the U.S. Open, and now THE PLAYERS is a wonderful fit to bridge the gap between The Masters and the U.S. Open. This is, as we all look at the field each and every year, probably the best field if not the second best, depending on the PGA field, what they have that year.

Q. Does it feel any different to you this week in terms of maybe your anticipation of the event, your focus on the event, than it did when it was in March?
TIGER WOODS: No, same. Same, I come here to win.

Q. Did you put the rainsuit away?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it’s supposed to rain this afternoon.
 
Q. Is this the event you most want to win after the majors?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, definitely. As everyone says, it’s the fifth major, so it’s certainly up there, yes.

Q. If the weather stays calm, what do you think the winning score will be?
TIGER WOODS: I don’t know. It’s anyone’s guess because we don’t play under these conditions, this firm, this fast. Even though the greens are firm, but they’re putting a little bit slow, which means that you can be pretty aggressive on most of your putts and not have to worry about that ball rolling out.

Q. Now that you’re a course designer as well as a player, when you come to a course that’s redone like this one, do you find yourself wearing two hats, one as a player and one as a designer?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, definitely. I’ve probably started doing that probably the last five or six years, started looking at that, trying to understand why they would do this, why they would do that and try and get an understanding of it. And then obviously talking to some of the architects over the years and even some of the players who have become architects, why they do certain things, and you start to get an understanding of how a golf course should be played. You know, when you’re an amateur and you go out there and just play and just hit it around, you start understanding why they put certain drainages here and blah blah blah, and it goes on down the list.

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