When last we heard from Tiger Woods, he was griping about the slow greens at Muirfield, which he seemed to blame for derailing his chances to win the British Open.
Fast forward 11 days and the world No. 1 was singing the same tune but in a slightly different key.
"The greens are spotty, and it'll be interesting to see what they do because they were running just under nine on the Stimp [Stimpmeter]," Woods told reporters Wednesday at Firestone about the putting surfaces at Oak Hill Country Club, sight of next week’s fourth and final major of the men’s season. "They don't have much thatch to them, so it'll be interesting to see what they do for the tournament and how much they're able to speed them up with kind of a lack of grass."
As ESPN’s Bob Harig noted, the device that measures the speeds of greens usually clocks them at about 12 or 13 for major championships. A nine on the scale would be a number with which Woods would be very unhappy, given his extreme dislike for sluggish putting surfaces.
"Normally, as the tournament progresses, the golf course is supposed to get faster and harder. We played it reversed [at Muirfield], so that's not normally the case, unless you get a deluge of rain and a front comes through, but we didn't have that," Woods said Wednesday, repeating for the reporters gathered at Firestone the complaints he aired in Scotland. "It was just nothing but hand watering. That was a bit of a situation I don't think I can honestly remember ever facing where the golf course was that fast on a Thursday and slowed down by Sunday with no Mother Nature involved. So that was definitely different."
Perhaps Tiger was hoping to influence the greenskeepers in Rochester and get them to do some mowing before he, Phil Mickelson, and the other stars of the golf world descend on the western New York track. After all, lobbying for dousing the fiery speeds that players faced to start the Open Championship at Muirfield seemed to work for Lefty, who whined vociferously about unfair conditions after the first day of play.
Whether Oak Hill will meet his particular specifications or not, Woods on Wednesday took responsibility for not adjusting to the slowdown at Muirfield.
"Looking back on it, as I was saying on Sunday night [at Muirfield] with you guys, the only difference is I just didn't get the feel of those greens the last few days, and I didn't make the adjustments," Woods said. "That's my fault for not making the adjustments. You've got to make the adjustments and I didn't do it, and consequently I didn't win the tournament."
Woods, who drew Hideki Matsuyama for the first two rounds of this week’s no-cut WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, is seeking his eighth victory at Firestone Country Club. But, as with Phil and most of the guys in the limited field this week, Tiger had Oak Hill on his mind.
"I just didn't remember it playing as long as it did when we played it yesterday," Woods said. "Granted, it always plays long when you don't have the adrenaline flowing and it's not a tournament situation. But I had my [yardage] book from the last time we played, and most of the times where I hit a 2-iron I was hitting 5-wood, and 3-wood is still 3-wood and driver is still driver."
Woods said he understood why the greens, which withstood damaging storms early last month, were in the shape they were and expected them to be major-worthy by the time the players take the field next Thursday.
"They [the greens] just don't have a lot of grass on them," Woods said. "So not going to push them now and save them for tournament week. And I'm sure by Monday they'll get them up to speed.
"They're looking to get them at around 12 and 13, but you don't want to do it for two weeks with how they are right now," he noted. "Just save them for the week of the tournament."
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