If Tiger Woods never fields another question about the state of his swing, that would be just fine with the 74-time PGA Tour winner.
Before talking about how he and his peers tried to emulate the “classic swing” of the legendary Sam Snead, who was pro emeritus at The Greenbrier, site of this week’s Greenbrier Classic, Woods answered -- for perhaps the billionth time -- questions about the state of his work with coach Sean Foley. (FYI: He’s confident after his win at Congressional Country Club, and he understands the “technical stuff” Foley wants him to do and how to fix it when it goes astray.)
The world No. 4 -- who surpassed Jack Nicklaus with his two-stroke victory at last week’s AT&T National to move into sole possession of second place, just eight Ws behind Snead’s 82 on the all-time wins leaderboard -- called out those who wondered if Woods would make it back to the winner’s circle.
“I remember there was a time when people were saying I could never win again,” he said after his victory Sunday. “That was, I think, what, six months ago. Here we are.”
In a Tuesday press conference ahead of this week’s tourney, Woods let the media have it again.
“Like answering your question,” he said to a reporter who asked if the “doubters” fueled his determination to succeed. “I have to do it in every single press conference. ... I have to answer it after post-rounds, whether it’s in front of you guys or live-shot.
“You do that for a couple of years,” Woods said to uncomfortable laughter from the assembled scribes. “Sometimes you guys can be a little annoying.”
Woods, who has had testy encounters with the media in the past (see: Alex Miceli), was not snippy throughout Tuesday’s presser. Indeed, he said several times how excited he was to be in West Virginia and discussed how special it was to have known Snead. It seems rather fitting, in fact, that Woods, who leads the tour with three wins this season, should tee it up at Snead’s favorite golf course as he chips away at Slammin’ Sammy’s all-time record.
Reflecting on his introduction to Snead, whom he met when he was 5, Woods recalled teeing it up for two holes during one of the legend’s exhibitions in Los Angeles.
“I was this little, snot-nosed kid of 5 years old [who] can’t hit it very far,” Woods said about smacking his tee shot on a par-3 into the water. Refusing to heed Snead’s advice to pick up his ball (“because my dad always taught me, you play it as it lies”), the “slightly competitive” youngster hit out of the hazard and bogeyed that hole and the only other one he played.
“I still have the card at home,” Woods said. “He signed it, he went par-par and I lost by two.”
Woods, who seemed bent on convincing anyone still on the fence, noted he had “been pretty consistent over the years” -- to the tune of an average of four wins per season -- and marveled at Snead’s ability to win tour events into his 50s.
“Sam’s record is just absolutely phenomenal. To do it for that long, to win a PGA Tour event [when] he was 52 ... and the consistency it took,” Woods said, adding that Snead's opponents, like Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson, weren’t exactly chopped liver. “To be able to do it for that long and that many generations, five decades, is pretty phenomenal.”
Woods also shed some light on the putting tip he received from his former college roommate prior to last week’s tourney. He and Notah Begay III, whom Woods has known since he was 11, engaged in a “philosophical talk about how I used to putt, what I used to think about.”
Woods said he was “picking his brain” about various subjects. “He made me think back to some of the things I used to think about in college and how I told him how to putt,” he averred. “He said, ‘You might want to go back to that.'
“I did,” concluded Woods, who ranked ninth in strokes gained-putting last week, “and I putted pretty good.”