BETHPAGE, United States (AFP) – Tiger Woods skipped his last chance at a practice round over formidable Bethpage Black on Wednesday in favor of an extra rest day before he launches his quest for a 16th major title Thursday at the 101st PGA Championship.
The 43-year-old American, who snapped an 11-year major win drought by capturing the Masters a month ago, has not played competitively since. He practiced last week for more than five hours at Bethpage and played a nine-hole practice round early Monday.
“There’s definitely going to be a component to stamina as the week goes on,” Woods said Tuesday. “Four days over a tough championship that is mentally and physically taxing takes its toll.”
Woods is scheduled to start from the 10th tee at 8:24 a.m. (1224 GMT) alongside the other reigning major champions, British Open winner Francesco Molinari of Italy and defending champion Brooks Koepka, who seeks his third consecutive US Open title next month at Pebble Beach.
“Physically I’ve been feeling really good. The training sessions have been good. I’ve been doing a lot of practicing of late,” Woods said Tuesday of his workout regimen.
“We came up here last week, took a look at it in detail and spent a lot of time on it. This is not only a big golf course, but this is going to be a long week the way the golf course is set up and potentially could play.”
Woods could become the first golfer since Jack Nicklaus in 1975 to win the Masters and PGA Championship in the same year, although this marks the first time since 1949 the PGA will be played in May, moving from its traditional August spot in a revamp of the global golf schedule.
It was only in 2015 that Jordan Spieth won the first two majors of the year, the Masters and US Open, before sharing fourth at the British Open.
Woods won the 2002 Masters and took the 2002 US Open at Bethpage before sharing 28th at the British Open.
Sixth-ranked Woods would become world number one for the first time since March 2013 by winning the PGA, having top-ranked Dustin Johnson finish solo 11th or worse and neither England’s second-ranked Justin Rose or third-ranked Koepka finishing second alone.
A victory would match Woods with Sam Snead for the all-time US PGA win record at 82 and move him two shy of the all-time major win record of 82 set by Jack Nicklaus.