Tiger Woods set to begin PGA Tour season at Pebble
Rumors that Tiger Woods might need a GPS to find the Pebble Beach Golf Links proved largely unfounded. When Woods elected to begin his 2012 season, American-style, at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am it was the first time he'd played on the Monterey Peninsula in a non-major championship in 10 years. Despite having won a U.S. Open there in a turn of the century performance the likes of which neither man nor beast had ever seen before was immaterial to the perennial No. 1 player in the world who isn't anymore. The reasoning all those years was the poa annua greens were too bumpy and the thrashing about of the amateurs made the rounds painfully slow. So, Woods went elsewhere.
When he came back for his first February visit in a decade, the biggest piece of news he brought with him was his disdain for the belly putter and the conversations he's had with the R&A's Peter Dawson about it. "I've never been a fan of it. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to that. I've talked to Peter about this," said Woods, "and gone back and forth over how we could word it. My idea was to have it so that the putter would be equal to or less than the shortest club in your bag. And I think with that we'd be able to get away from any type of belly anchoring. You can still anchor the putter like Bernhard Langer did against the forearm. I think you can get away from the belly or the long putter by that type of wording. (Whether) you actually measure everybody's sand wedge and putter before you go out and play, that's another thing."
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In all other respects, Woods seemed very much like a man who remains on the mend. Rather than being discouraged by his final round 72 in Abu Dhabi, he put it down as part of the process.
"Even though I lost, that was my bad day of ball striking, and it wasn't that bad," he said. "So, it wasn't that big a deal. If I can have that as my bad ball striking day, then we're looking pretty good. I'm excited about that. Took two weeks off after the World Challenge, didn't touch a club and then, after that go right back into it and, boom, almost won a golf tournament. So, things are progressing."
Woods' amateur partner is Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. And his caddie is Joe LaCava, an incorrigible New York Giants fan. When Woods was asked if he was going to give LaCava the day off so he could go to the Giants' parade, he said, "No, he can watch it on TV."
As for whether or not the Giants Super Bowl victory was going to be a topic of conversation, mostly of the needling variety, among that threesome, Woods smiled and replied, "What do you think?"
-- Jim Moriarty