Tiger “honoured”, but needs “reps”

There were no real fireworks from Tiger Woods when he played in Notah Begay III’s charity challenge on Wednesday.

There were no real fireworks from Tiger Woods when he played in Notah Begay III’s charity challenge on Wednesday.

In fact golf’s biggest money spinner of all time and the owner of more than 70 PGA Tour titles, including 14 majors, admitted afterwards that his partner, Women’s World No 2 Suzann Pettersen of Norway, had, for the most part, “carried him” as they took third place behind the American duo of Hunter Mahan and Cristie Kerr and the US-Swedish pairing of Rickie Fowler and Annika Sorenstam.

Mahan and Kerr, the Women’s World No 3, posted an 11-under 61 at the Turning Stone Resort in up-state New York to win this better-ball charity event for the second straight year. Fowler and Sorenstam, who stepped out of retirement to play, finished a shot back with a 62 and Woods and Pettersen carded a 63.

Begay, who was Woods’ room-mate when they were at Stanford University, played with LPGA calendar girl Natalie Gulbis and shot a 7-under 65 to finish fourth and last among the pairings.

Woods, who has played only eight PGA Tour events this year because of injuries to his left knee and Achilles tendon, began the day with a perfect drive that set up a birdie at the par-4 opening hole.

But he had a bumpy ride after that.

A gallery of more than 3,000 fans saw him hit his drive at the second hole into the left rough, then fluff his second shot at the par-3 third, take a drop on the par-4 fourth after he drove into the weeds. and hit a spectator on the ankle at the next with another awry shot.

And his left leg injuries? Are they a thing of the past? Maybe not.

Observers felt he walked a little gingerly after blasting out of a sand trap at the 17th hole and into the rough.

The par-5 18th and final hole maybe summed up his day of toil and trouble. He hit his drive some 65 yards left of the fairway and straight out of bounds.

“It was all right. It’s coming around. I just need more reps,” said Woods, who earlier had admitted he had relied on Pettersen to keep the duo in contention.

“She played great,” Woods enthused. “She definitely carried me.”

There have been a mixed reception to the decision by US Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples to prematurely hand Woods one of his two wild card picks well ahead of the scheduled date in late September when he is due to name his US team for November’s biennial battle between the US and Greg Norman’s rest-of-the-world Internationals in Australia.

Couples said it had been done to avoid speculation and controversy and pointed out that as the greatest player of the current decade, Woods deserved to be in the team.

Some like Colin Montgomerie, agreed with him, but there has been an undercurrent of dissent that has taken the view that, as great as he has been, with an injured left leg and shattered confidence still suspect and his rebuilt swing still in disarray, Woods is simply not ready just yet for the kind of golf that will be expected of him.

He hardly helped dispel these feeling at Turning Stone, but nevertheless told the media before teeing off in Begay’s Charity event that he not only felt honoured to have earned selection for the US Presidents Cup team, but that he also believed he had deserved to be in the team.

When he was asked by a reporter if he felt he had earned his selection, Woods nodded a yes in response and said: “Fred (Couples) iterated that he wanted me on the Presidents Cup team and he wanted me to play, He’s the captain. It’s his prerogative who he picks.

“They wanted me on the team and I’m honored to be a part of the team. It’s a wonderful mix of younger guys and older veterans. I also wanted to play and go ahead and test what I’ve been working on.”

Couples said he wanted Woods to play in more tournaments before the Australian Open in Sydney in November which comes just a week before the Presidents Cup in Melbourne, and Woods, who didn’t qualify this year for the FedEx Cup play-offs currently on the go, has met the request by entering the PGA Tour’s Fall Series event, the Frys.com Open in California in the first week of October.

It will be his first event in six weeks following his disappointing missed cut effort in the final major of the year at the US PGA Championship.

“I’ve been hurt the majority of the year and haven’t quite gotten to be able to (get) the reps in that I need to do to comply with what Sean (Foley, his swing coach) wants me to do,” Woods said.

“We were right on track at Augusta, but unfortunately I got hurt there and that was a huge setback. We’re just trying to get back to where I was at Augusta, and it’s coming around. I just need more reps.”