JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- Tiger Woods played a casual nine holes Tuesday afternoon at the Atlanta Athletic Club, where he hit a few loose shots but appeared in good spirits while occasionally joking with fans and his playing partner, Arjun Atwal.
Atwal playfully plucked Woods’s birdie putt off the ground just as it was about to topple into the cup on the ninth hole, their last of the day. (Clearly, there was no money game with this twosome, unlike the Phil Mickelson-Dustin Johnson round earlier in the day.) Atwal and Woods often play together at Isleworth, a gated golf community outside Orlando, where they both own homes.
After the round, Atwal said Woods’s game is improving.
“It’s was fun -- it always is. He’s hitting it great, he’s just got to get more reps in,” Atwal said. “He’s flushing it. He just needs to work on his distances.”
After Woods and Atwal finished up on the ninth hole, Woods signed about five autographs while strolling from the green to the clubhouse, and eventually, to the range. He did not speak with reporters, but has a press conference scheduled for Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.
Golf’s most popular temp, Bryon Bell, was once again carrying Tiger’s bag, signaling that Woods’s friend and design company president will be working as his caddie for a second-straight week.
Woods was also once again sporting a pair of the prototype Nike “Free” golf shoes, which are patterned after one of the company’s running shoe lines.
Joining Woods and Bell inside the ropes was Tiger’s swing coach Sean Foley, who occasionally gave Woods advice, modeling swing positions with a long, unopened umbrella, while keeping his omnipresent video camera holstered in his belt for most of the round.
At this week's PGA Championship, Woods will be searching for his first professional victory since the 2009 Australian Masters, and first major title since the 2008 U.S. Open. He returned from a three-month layoff last week at the Bridgestone Invitational, where he finished tied for 37th while recording just one under-par round. He will tee off with Davis Love III and Padraig Harrington on Thursday at 8:35 a.m. in the opening round of the tournament. (Photo: Paul Childs/Zuma Press)