Tiger Woods squeezed in an early practice round at the Ocean Course on Tuesday. But the world’s biggest golf star said Wednesday he will need more work on Kiawah Island’s jewel before he’s ready for next week’s PGA Championship.
“I need some more practice rounds on it for sure,” Woods said Wednesday at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone in Akron, Ohio. “But I did most of our charting. I’d still like to see it under different wind conditions, because we only played one wind (Tuesday).”
Woods is a seven-time winner at the WGC-Bridgestone, and so obviously he felt comfortable sneaking away for an early look at the Ocean Course. British Open runner- up Adam Scott, 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and current U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson also have spent recent time on the Ocean Course, and South Carolina’s own Tommy Gainey played there Wednesday.
Official practice rounds begin Monday, with the first round set for Thursday.
The unpredictable winds blowing off the Atlantic Ocean seem to be foremost in the minds of the players who have tested the Ocean Course.
“There’s good scores out there in good weather,” Scott said at the WGC-Bridgestone, where he won last year. “But if the wind blows, it’s going to be very difficult, even if they move tees forward and stuff like that.”
Woods, seeking to add to his total of 14 major championships, said the Ocean Course “will take a little bit of getting used to.”
“Being seaside, the wind can change,” Woods said. “The wind comes out of different directions. There’s so much room out there, but as soon as the wind starts blowing 20, 30 miles an hour, there’s not much room.”
Woods, who has brought his yacht “Privacy” to Lowcountry waters for the PGA, expressed concern as to how well the 210,000 spectators expected to attend next week will get around on the Ocean Course — and how they will get there.
“I don’t know how spectators are going to get around this place,” he said. “First of all, I don’t know how they’re going to get to it. But once they’re there, it’s going to be a great environment.”
Scott said he was struck by the difference between the front nine and the back nine at the Ocean Course, which was designed by Pete Dye and opened in time to host the Ryder Cup in 1991.
“It’s two different nine holes,” he said. “The front nine is a really nice, playable golf course. And then the back nine is not. The back nine is very severe. It’s going to be interesting down there.”
Scott said the wind is not the Ocean Course’s only defense.
“Green complexes are very severe on some holes,” he said. “It’s just extreme penalty for a miss. There’s water on one side and big waste bunkers the other. It’s certainly going to need some ball-striking.”
And some length off the tee, as well.
“It’s going to be long,” Woods said. “I think it’s going to be close to 7,700 yards, and that’s a big ballpark.”
The Ocean Course will play at 7,676 yards, longest in PGA Championship history.
After a funnel cloud was sighted near Kiawah Island on Wednesday, Ocean Course superintendent Jeff Stone said there was no damage.