Be it age or injury, Woods playing at slower pace

  • Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 11th hole of the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course during the final round of the Farmers Insurance golf tournament Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) Gregory Bull

  • Tiger Woods waits to hit his tee shot on the 11th hole of the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course during the final round of the Farmers Insurance golf tournament Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) Gregory Bull

  • Haotong Li of China walks on the 14th hole during round three of the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili) Kamran Jebreili

  • Justin Rose, of England, greets fans as he makes his way to the 14th hole of the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course during the final round of the Farmers Insurance golf tournament Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) Gregory Bull

  • Adam Scott, of Australia, reacts as his putt for birdie just misses on the second hole of the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course during the final round of the Farmers Insurance golf tournament Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) Gregory Bull

Associated Press
Published: 1/29/2019 10:23:04 PM

SAN DIEGO — Tiger Woods wrapped up his week at Torrey Pines with a 67 to tie for 20th and said it was good to shake off some rust and see what needs work. It was his first competition in seven weeks, and only his second event since the Ryder Cup ended on Oct. 1.

Whether it’s because of age or injury — both are relevant — keep in mind that for the first 12 years of his pro career, Woods never finished outside the top 10 in his first event of the year, winning six times. The streak ended at the Match Play in 2009 after he sat out eight months recovering from reconstructive knee surgery.

Dating to 2009, he has finished in the top 10 just twice in his first event of the year — a tie for fourth in the 2010 Masters and a tie for third in Abu Dhabi in 2012.

Even at his best, and when healthy, when Woods didn’t win his first start of the year it was written off in some corners as spring training. Everything was geared toward that first full week at Augusta National. In some respects, that remains true.

It’s about peaking four weeks every year, and Woods said that starts “months out.”

But when does it become important to start seeing results?

“Just want to keep building, keep getting more crisp,” Woods said. “It’s hard to peak for four major championships. It’s not easy. I’ve only done it 14 times.”

Most players would love to peak at majors half as much — if that many — in their careers. While conceding that “only” 14 sounds like a lot, Woods put it into context by referencing Jack Nicklaus winning “only” 18 times in 164 majors.

“It’s not easy to do,” said Woods, who has played 80 majors, six as an amateur. “It’s hard to have mind, body and soul come together at the same time. Luckily in this sport, we have four chances per year.”

What has his attention this year is not getting ready for the Masters, but the quick turnaround for the next one, with the PGA Championship moving to May. Last year, for example, there were nine weeks between the Masters and the U.S. Open. Now, there are four weeks between the Masters and the PGA.

“It’s very different because it feels like it’s our Players Championship week,” Woods said. “I’m familiar with the new date where we are with the Players (March). That’s not a big change for me. But having the PGA in May is going to be a little bit different.”

MILLER TIME

Saturday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open is typically about the volume and antics on the par-3 16th hole. This year, NBC Sports will devote a fair amount of the broadcast saying goodbye to Johnny Miller, the biggest voice in golf over the last 30 years.

Miller announced last fall he would retire. The third round will be his final day so nothing will detract from the winner on Sunday.

The two-time major champion never had a problem saying what he thinks. This time, his biggest concern is guarding his emotions.

“This is going to be quite the one-day telecast for me,” Miller said. “Yeah, I’ve given a lot of thought about this last event for me. I know it’s time. I could feel it was time to step down, but I stepped down a little early in my playing career, and I think maybe I’ve done the same thing here with my announcing career.

“I’m looking forward to trying not to cry, basically.”

Miller will be joined briefly in the booth Saturday by Paul Azinger, who replaces him as the lead analyst at NBC, and then Azinger will call the shots on Sunday. Azinger’s first full tournament as Miller’s replacement will be the Mexico Championship.

STAT OF THE WEEK

With their 1-2 finish at Torrey Pines, Justin Rose and Adam Scott both went over the $50 million mark in career earnings on the PGA Tour.

FINAL WORD

“I’ve made myself look silly enough through the years. It’s nice to be left out of that for a change.” — Ian Poulter, on not being part of the latest European Tour social media spot.


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