MEDINAH, Ill. – Stepping to the podium, feeling healthy and ready to go, he sported a smile through most of his pre-tournament news conference.
There are lots of reasons for Tiger Woods to feel good at the moment, starting with the place he’s at for this weekend’s BMW Championship. This venue, as much as any, has played a big role in his incredible career.
“Yeah, I’ve had some good memories,” said Woods of Medinah Country Club – and that’s a massive understatement.
Two of his 15 major championships have come on the No. 3 championship course at the club in the western suburbs, both in the last two hosted by the venue. In 1999, he outlasted then 19-year old upstart Sergio Garcia in a memorable back-nine battle to win the PGA Championship for the first time in his career.
Seven years later, in 2006, he was a little more dominant from start to finish, ending that PGA Championship at 18-under to secure yet another victory at Medinah.
A lot has happened since then for Woods, who did return for the 2012 Ryder Cup as well. His career got an incredible boost from a victory at The Masters in April, and while he fell short in the other three majors, he hopes for a boost at a favorable venue this week.
Though Woods does admit, it’s not the circumstances that are different as he returns to the No. 3 course again.
“The golf course is a lot bigger. It’s a lot longer than I remember. They’ve certainly lengthened it since ’99 and ’06,” said Woods of the Medinah course. “13, it’s a big hole now, and they moved up 15. Now it’s drivable. Before we were hitting 2-irons down there from the back tee. They’ve made a few tweaks here and there.”
Woods continues to do so to get the most out of his at times ailing body as he finishes out the 2019 competitive season. Last week he was forced to withdraw early from The Northern Trust, the first playoff tournament of the Fed Ex Cup, due to a strained oblique.
Yet that pain was gone when Woods took the course at Medinah just after down to play half-a-round on the course, happy that he made the decision last week to bring him back to the Chicagoland area this week.
“It was nice to take those days off and I just had to let it calm down and get a bunch of treatment on it and it feels so much better,” said Woods of his health. “I played nine today – played the front nine – and played quite well, which was nice to see and nice to feel. Took the back nine off; chipped and putted quite a bit.
“It definitely doesn’t feel like it did on Friday.”
Maybe it will feel like it did in years past when Woods steps onto the course on Thursday at Medinah once again. There are good memories at this place, and maybe some more are still left to be made for one of the greatest in the sport.