Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson are two guys teeing it up this week in the Greenbrier Classic you probably don’t want to bet on to win at The Old White TPC.
Woods, despite his traditionally optimistic assessment of the progress he’s making in his game, is still dealing with a "knickknack" wound he said contributed to his poor performance at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay two weeks ago. And Watson, because the winner of last week’s Travelers Championship is running on empty.
"I'm tired. I'm spent," Watson told reporters on Wednesday from White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. "That much pressure, that much energy spent trying to get into the playoff, trying to stay in the playoff and then trying to produce in the playoff. I'm tired and worn out."
Watson beat Paul Casey on the second extra frame on Sunday at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn. The second Travelers victory for the two-time Masters champion and winner of eight PGA Tour events clearly took it out of Bubba, who played just three practice holes on Tuesday at the Greenbrier before calling it a day.
"My wife gave me some rest, my in-laws took the kids to the pool," said the big-hitter, who’s essentially playing a home game this week as one of the Greenbrier’s PGA Tour ambassadors. "Mentally the energy level is just not there. So, hopefully resting, drinking fluids and hopefully (I will) recover a little bit."
Watson had not even had the chance to rejoice about his latest W or rev up for the Greenbrier, what with the trials and tribulations of being a professional golfer.
"I won a tournament and then I'm playing the following week," Watson said. "There is no time to celebrate and smile and cheer and take some time off and think about the victory you just made. It's back to work.
"My three-year-old woke me up at seven o'clock saying, ‘Daddy, wake up. I haven't seen you in week.’ I'm like, ‘I've only slept for five hours. Can I go to sleep?’" Watson added. "Every player on tour that's won has had to deal with playing the next week and challenge themselves to get up and get ready for that event."
Tiger, no doubt, would relish the opportunity to have to cope with such adversity. With his last of 79 tour wins coming almost two years ago at Firestone, Woods said he hoped soon to break the all-time record of 82 victories held by Sam Snead, Greenbrier’s golf pro emeritus for many years.
"That's one of the hallowed records in our sport," he said. "To be in a position to be able to do that is something I'm proud of so far."
Tiger, who vacationed in the Bahamas with his two kids between missing the cut at Chambers Bay and playing his usual stellar pre-tournament pro-am round, said the blister on his left forefinger that plagued him at last month’s Memorial was still an issue.
I know, I know. It's only Wednesday. It's just a pro-am. But Tiger Woods just hit every fairway and every green on the front-nine.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelESPN) July 1, 2015
"I had a few little knickknack injuries going on there that week (of the Open)," Woods said in his press conference on the eve of his seventh start of 2015. "The blister I had on my finger, it’s still there. That hadn’t healed and still hasn’t really healed yet."
Other than that, Woods -- whose agent refuted a tabloid report that his client had or has a relationship with Jason Dufner’s ex-wife Amanda -- was bullish on his second stint at an event that has made it onto his schedule just once before.
"Yeah, we made a little bit of progress since the last time I played. Obviously, it’s not really saying much," quipped Woods, who missed the Greenbrier cut in 2012, the only other time he has played in the competition.
Enjoying a brief hiatus from all-things golf after his 80-76 turn at Chambers Bay, Woods swapped his clubs for snorkeling and sport-fishing gear. As he often does, Woods said the score on a U.S. Open track he diplomatically termed "interesting" and "weird," was not indicative of how he played.
"I know it’s hard to believe that I wasn’t that far (off) at the Open, but I really wasn’t," Woods said. "Playing a golf course that’s as interesting as that place was -- if you missed a shot, you could look like an absolute idiot there, and then hit an awful shot and look like a hero.
"It’s just one of those weird golf courses. You had to play it well and play it smart," added Woods. "You had to be aggressive and pick your spots. I wasn’t in a position where I was hitting good enough to be able to do that."
Woods maintained that he was confident enough in his game -- despite the outcome at the national championship that followed a last-place finish at the Memorial -- to step away from practice heading into this week’s tilt. Earlier in the year, in the midst of his short-game woes, he said he needed to hit the range hard.
Not now, though.
"(At the) beginning of this year, after Torrey or Phoenix, I was not in a position where I could take time off," Woods said, referring to his then-career-worst Round of 82, missed cut in Phoenix and early withdrawal at Torrey Pines. "I had to practice everyday, I had to change the pattern. Once I turned the corner, then I can take a few days off here and then and the pattern will be fine."
Tiger was set to tee off with old friend Steve Stricker and reigning Memorial champ David Lingmerth on the 10th hole at 8:10 a.m. ET on Thursday. Bubba drew Davis Love III and Bill Haas for his 1 p.m. tee time on No. 1.
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