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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

Tiger Woods will have to familiarise with US PGA Championship venue

Former world No 1, looking to claim 15th major title, sounds far from bullish on returning to course after 17 years

A visit to Bellerive Country Club in St Louis, Missouri,does not trigger happy memories for Tiger Woods. AFP
A visit to Bellerive Country Club in St Louis, Missouri,does not trigger happy memories for Tiger Woods. AFP

Considering he only just returned to Bellerive Country Club after 17 years, Tiger Woods concedes he will have plenty of homework to do to win the US PGA Championship this week.

Woods, who is looking to claim a 15th major title, was among the players due to compete at the course in St Louis, Missouri, in 2001 when the WGC-American Express Championship was cancelled due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He also missed the 2008 BMW Championship at the same venue due to injury, and he was only able to play five holes in practice before his pre-tournament news conference on Tuesday due to thunderstorms.

"I literally haven't set foot on this golf course since that week in 2001," Woods said. "I didn't get up here pre-British Open and yesterday I took the day off.

"Today we only got in five holes and didn't really get a chance to see a whole lot, so I'll have to do some more homework tomorrow and get a good feel for what's going on for the rest of the week.

"I needed that day off. I spent a few times in the ice bath just trying to get some inflammation down and just trying to get ready for the rest of the week.

"There's going to be certain days that I'm just not going to have the speed and the flexibility and the movement that I once did. I'm 42 now and I've had four back surgeries. So things are going to be different from day-to-day, and it's just about managing it."

Woods underwent spinal fusion surgery in April last year and conceded he feels "blessed" simply to be able to compete again, but has already failed to convert several chances to claim his first victory since 2013.

The 14-time major winner finished second behind Paul Casey in the Valspar Championship in March and was in contention at Bay Hill the following week before driving out of bounds on the 16th hole of the final round.

Most significantly, Woods also led the British Open at Carnoustie with eight holes to play, only to double bogey the 11th and drop another shot on the next as playing partner Francesco Molinari went on to lift the Claret Jug.

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"To go from missing the cut in the US Open to contending and at one point leading the Open on the back nine, it felt good. It felt very familiar," Woods added.

"Unfortunately, I made two mistakes there on 11 and 12 and it cost me a chance to win the championship. I felt like I was in control of what I was doing, and that felt good. Unfortunately, I just didn't do it."

With 79 career PGA Tour wins and 12 international victories, Woods has shown that he possesses the ability and skill to win on all manner of courses and in any conditions.

But a closer look at his haul indicates the former world No 1 has his happy hunting grounds with nearly half of his PGA titles plundered from five courses.

He has eight WGC victories at Akron's Firestone Country Club, eight from the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando, seven at Torrey Pines, five Memorial titles at Muirfield Village and four Green Jackets from Augusta National.