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Tiger Woods offers an idea on how to solve the distance debate

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Hector Vivas

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Tiger Woods took his most definitive stance on the distance debate, saying on Saturday that he believes adding spin to the ball “would be advantageous for the game of golf.”

The comments came in an interview with CBS’ Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo during Saturday’s third-round broadcast of the Genesis Invitational as part of Woods’ duties as host of tournament. Faldo proposed limiting the size of driver faces to help reign in distance off the tee, to which Woods responded: “Add spin to the golf ball. That’s a way to shorten it up as well.”

Woods began his career playing with balata balls and experienced first-hand the revolution started by the urethane-covered ball, which not only flies farther but spins less, aiding distance while mitigating the penalty on mishits.

Golf’s governing bodies have been studying increases in distance for years and, in February 2021, laid the groundwork for potential rule changes.

“We’re entering into the solution phase from an equipment-standards standpoint,” Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance, said in a statement. “This is the first step in re-engaging the manufacturing community in looking at possible solutions for the long-term distance challenges that the game is facing.”

In October 2020, Woods said the distance debate had been going on for 20 years and should have been addressed earlier.

"They should have been worried a long time ago, but the genie's out of the bag now," he said at the 2020 Zozo Championship. "It's about what do we do going forward and how soon can they do it, but I don't know if you're going to stop the guys who are there right now. Guys are figuring out how to carry the ball 320-plus yards, and it's not just a few of them.

"There are a lot of guys who can do it, and that's where the game's going,” Woods continued then. “There's only going to be a small amount of property that we can do … where we can alter golf courses. I just don't see how they can roll everything back. I would like to be able to see that, as far as our game, but then we go back down the road of what do you bifurcate, at what level?”

Woods seemed to endorse bifurcation on Saturday, saying that he opposes any changes that would hamper amateurs’ enjoyment of the game and doesn’t see an issue with having a specific set of rules for professionals.