Tiger says game is improving, dismisses questions about personal life

Tiger says game is improving, dismisses questions about personal life

At his Tuesday press conference, Tiger Woods said his game is returning to form.
Fred Vuich/SI

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Tiger Woods declined to talk about the state of his marriage at a media conference Tuesday, telling a reporter that a question about the state of his marriage is “none of your business.”

Woods has not been seen in public with his wife, Elin Nordegren, for months. She did not attend his post-scandal return to professional golf at the Masters or any of his subsequent tournament appearances, leading to intense speculation about a possible divorce.

Other than that one question about his personal life, Woods spoke freely at his Tuesday media conference at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, the site of his most-dominant major performance, when he trounced the field by a record 15 strokes in winning the U.S. Open in 2000.

Don’t expect him to overpower the course this week, though. Woods revealed that because of the way the course is playing, he would probably hit only “a handful of drivers” this week. “The golf course is getting so fast,” he said. “Some of the holes where you would think you would hit driver, 3-wood’s now starting to become a choice.”

Woods described the U.S. Open the toughest major to win because it has “the thickest rough, the narrowest fairways, the fastest greens, and the trickiest pins.”

“Other than that, it’s pretty simple,” he joked.

Despite recent physical woes — he withdrew from the Players Championship in May with a sore neck and didn’t play again until two weeks ago at the Memorial Tournament, where he finished tied for 19th — the world number one says he feels healthy heading into the year’s second major.

“The neck is better,” Woods said. “It does get sore from time to time but I can recover. There are no days I couldn’t play.”

He also insists that his game is much improved since the Masters, when he hit a string of shots more common to a 10-handicap but still managed an impressive tie for fourth place.

“As far as my game, I’m very excited about how it’s progressed since before Memorial then obviously during Memorial and how here it’s gotten better,” Woods said. “The more time I’ve been able to practice and play, it’s starting to solidify and I’m really excited to tee it up on Thursday.”

The three-time Open champion said his distance control was much improved at the Memorial, a sign his game is returning to form. “Obviously I’m controlling my ball flight, controlling the shape, the trajectory,” Woods said. “If I can’t control my ‘traj’ I can’t hit the ball the right distance and I’m starting to do that and that’s just from playing.

“The more I play, the more I get my feel back,” he continued. “Where I was at the beginning of June is where a lot of those guys are in January and February, the amount of rounds they completed, so I’m starting to get my feel back and I know I have to be patient with it. It’s coming along.”

Asked about the turmoil in his life over the past few months, Woods said he has been able to regain a sense of normalcy on and off the course since his return to golf at Augusta. “That’s certainly getting better,” he said. “Getting back into the competitive atmosphere and preparation and that’s something that I hadn’t done for a long period of time.”

Woods will play the opening round with two-time Open champ Ernie Els and last week’s winner in Memphis, England’s Lee Westwood.

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