"Different" Is the New "Interesting"
By Stephanie Wei under General

Tiger Woods played a little better on Saturday, shooting four-under 67. He’s 5 strokes back and within striking distance of the leaders, Paul Goydos and Steve Marino. Tiger made some putts, a few of which were big par saves. He still missed a ton. I witnessed a relatively short one for birdie on the 16th. The look on his face screamed, “You’ve gotta be kidding me.” Sure, he was laughing throughout the day, but it wasn’t because he was happy — rather, it seems like he just thinks Liberty National is absurd, particularly the greens.

In his post-round presser, here’s what he said about them:

Q. Is this the least you’ve ever gotten out of a round?
TIGER WOODS: I would say so, yeah. It was just one of those things where I was playing well but these greens are just — they are just so different. It’s not too often where you have, as I was saying out there, about half your putts were double-breaking putts. You’re hitting in there ten feet, 12 feet, 15 feet and they are double-breaking putts all the time. A lot of movement there.

Q. Do these greens have as much break as any you’ve played?
TW: The only other golf course we’ve seen anything like this is maybe Fancourt but that’s match play, who really cares if it’s match play. But when you’re playing stroke play, it’s two totally different deals.

Q. When is the last time you had Stevie helping you read the greens, bringing in the second set of eyes?
TW: I don’t think I have. Usually I read greens on my own and feel very comfortable with my reads but here, like I said, a lot of the putts are double-breaking putts. I’ll ask him, and with my speed, is it going to move or not. And in the middle of the putt, what do you see it doing and things like that. It’s just so different here.

Q. 16 appeared to be one of the more frustrating holes — 15, sorry.
TW: I thought that putt would break left and it was inside right and then it moved back to the right. As I said, I didn’t see that at all. A lot of putts were like that.
The eagle putt that I hit there, what was it, 6, that was a good putt. That was a really good putt. Even Zach, I could hear Zach telling Damon, he couldn’t believe it actually broke up the hill. These greens are just different.

Q. You said the course was interesting; over the three rounds what have you found interesting about it specifically?
TW: Just the greens, the greens are so different. Yeah, the pin locations are fine. They are a little bit difficult, but then again, the greens are soft. You can get after them. You just can’t miss it on the short-side here. You miss on the short-side, pretty much a hot old bogey.
But you know, overall, as I said, I don’t think we’ve ever played greens with this much movement. They are just, as I said, they are just very different that way.

He used the word “different” six times. So, it probably means the same thing as “interesting” — he thinks the greens are stupid and poorly designed. You know, I don’t think he’s whining, per se. He knows and said everyone is playing the same course. The greens are tough and obviously not impossible because guys are posting decent scores.

But it’s been interesting to watch the guys around the greens. I was talking with a caddie early in the week and he was wondering how they were going to get four pins on the third hole. In the third round, the pin was tucked in the back right on a ridge. Every time a player hit it to that section, it rolled back to the front of the green. If they had a chip on the short side, it was basically an automatic bogey.

The pin on the 8th was front center between two slopes. Jerry Kelly hit his approach to the back of the green. I watched him use a lob wedge and chip it to a foot. It was the best play — if he had putt it, the ball would have probably rolled off the green. I’m not a pro, but isn’t it usually a design error if a player has to chip on a green (and take a sizable divot)?

Tiger also commented, “Where the tees are, they are playing the ladies tees most of the day. The guys can run away with it if they really play well coming in.” From my perspective, it didn’t look like it was playing that short. The tees were moved up, especially compared to the practice rounds (I noticed on Friday they were way up on the 18th). But the course is wet and soft. The guys aren’t getting any roll off the tee. And, it was playing shorter because compared to Friday, there wasn’t much wind. The way it was set up was fair — there were more opportunities for birdies.

The course will be playing tougher in the final round. Let’s see if Tiger can make some more putts tomorrow and catch Marino and Goydos. Maybe his frustration will fire him up — that usually works pretty well. Then again, his distaste for the course could work against him.