Gearing up for this week’s LA Open at Riviera Country Club, Tiger Woods appears ready to conquer the final frontier of his US PGA Tour comeback – the wayward driver.
Following a dismal display from the tee at Torrey Pines, Woods has been fine-tuning specifications for the long club ahead of his second US Tour event in 12 months.
The move seemed to pay dividends during Wednesday’s pro am, with Woods hitting eight of 14 fairways during an informal two-under par 69 at the difficult Riviera course.
It is a far cry from the 19 fairways he hit during four rounds at Torrey Pines, where he performed a short-game miracle to make his first US Tour cut in two years en route to a tie for 23rd.
“I felt we could all see how bad I was driving it (at Torrey Pines), so I was able to clean that up a little bit,” said Woods, who was sidelined for 10 months last year while recovering from spinal fusion surgery.
“(During the past two weeks) was able to hit lots of golf balls, work on my game, try different (equipment) out. But mainly I just tried to clean up my swing,” he said.
An inconsistent driver has always been Woods’ achilles heel – it’s why he’s never enjoyed success at Riviera.
He’s never won in eight visits as a pro and stopped coming to the event altogether in 2006.
“I love the golf course. I love the layout. It fits my eye (but) I play awful; it’s just one of those weird things,” Woods said.
However, Woods’ iron play was sharp on Wednesday, hitting 14 of 18 greens in regulation.
Boosting his chances of contending in an elite field is the fact tournament officials have cut the rough down alongside the fairways and around the greens.
Even Adam Scott – a winner and twice runner-up at the event – noticed a change.
“The rough looks a bit (shorter) than previous years, so there should be some lower scores,” the Australian said.
Woods is paired for the first two rounds with world No.4 Justin Thomas and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy.