WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, July 2- Tiger Woods expects some improvements, however slight, in his game when the PGA Greenbrier Classic begins Thursday even as he was romantically linked to a rival’s ex-wife on Wednesday.
The 39-year-old 14-time major champion, in the midst of the worst season of his career, missed the cut at last month’s US Open at Chambers Bay with rounds of 80 and 76, the worst 36-hole effort of his career.
“I’ve made a little bit of progress. Obviously, that’s not saying much,” Woods said. “I’m looking forward to getting out there and competing.”
Woods, the former world number one who has slumped to 220th in the rankings, makes his only tuneup for the British Open in two weeks at St. Andrews against a field whose only top-10 rival is third-ranked Bubba Watson, the two-time Masters champion coming off a PGA victory last week.
Woods, who shared 17th at the Masters in his only decent showing this year, was again the subject of tabloid reports Wednesday as the National Enquirer stated Woods and US ski star Lindsey Vonn split up in May after two years together because she caught Woods cheating on her with Amanda Boyd, a 27-year-old who in March divorced star golfer Jason Dufner, the 2013 PGA Championship winner.
Mark Steinberg, the agent for Woods, told Fox News in an e-mail the report linking Woods to Boyd was “Absolutely 100 percent false,” and a “Complete lie and fabrication.” he told the Golf Channel the story was “categorically false” and a “ridiculous rumor.”
Woods had a secret sex life with more than a dozen mistresses revealed in 2009, a scandal that led to his divorce from Elin Nordegren in 2010.
He has not won a major title since the scandal erupted, ruining his good-guy clean cut image and as a result saw his endorsement deals suffer a major blow.
– ‘I know what I’m doing’ –
Speaking before the Boyd report circulated but after his practice rounds, Woods continued to back his swing changes and work with consultant Chris Como despite his ongoing struggles where even mediocrity would be an improvement.
“I know what I’m doing out here,” Woods said. “I know what it feels like. I know where my game is and what progress I have or haven’t made. That’s what I’m concerned about.”
Woods has had to make adjustments on his swing over the years to ease the load on his body, which has suffered from numerous knee, leg and back injuries over the years as he smashed tee shots well beyond rivals in younger days.
Woods missed the cut in 2012 after going 71-69 for 36 holes the last time he played the Greenbrier, where scores typically finish well below par.
“The course is in great shape. The greens are a little faster than the last time I played,” Woods said. “I expect the scores to be very low. We’re going to have to go low. We’re going to have to make a bunch of birdies, keep the pedal down, be aggressive.”
Woods said he took a vacation with his children in the Bahamas after missing the cut at the US Open.
“I know it’s hard to believe I wasn’t that far (from playing well) at the Open, but I really wasn’t,” Woods said.