By Sal Maiorana - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
The last time Tiger Woods played Oak Hill Country Club in the 2003 PGA Championship, he left town shaking his head over how the East Course kicked his butt.
In fact, after shooting 12-over-par 282, the worst score of his career in relation to par until his 13-over at Merion this year, he called Oak Hill, "the toughest, fairest golf course I've ever played. I fought hard just to shoot bad."
Well, after running around Oak Hill on Tuesday to check out the layout in advance of next week's PGA, Woods apparently wasn't quite as impressed and said he has concerns about the greens.
"The greens are spotty, and it'll be interesting to see what they do because they were running just under 9 on the Stimp (Stimpmeter, a device used to gauge the speed of greens)," Woods said at his Wednesday press conference at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, site of this week's World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
"They don't have much thatch to them, so it'll be interesting to see what they do for the tournament and how much they're able to speed them up with kind of a lack of grass."
Typically for major championships, greens will run anywhere from 11.5 to 13.5 on the Stimpmeter, so for Tiger to say they're at nine, his opinion is the grounds crew has some work to do before the PGA Championship begins one week from Thursday.
Oak Hill greens superintendent Jeff Corcoran heard about Tiger's comments, and his basic response was that Tiger and the rest of the players won't have anything to worry about.
"That was kind of our game plan going into advance week, have them slow," Corcoran said. "We didn't cut them yesterday (which would explain why Tiger's Stimpmeter read only nine). We had a record rainfall in June and July and then some pretty intense heat a week or two ago, so they're a little banged up. But we will be ready for the Championship."
Woods had a tough time putting the greens at Muirfield during the British Open, and those were considered on the slower end of the spectrum.
"We're going to have no problems achieving our goals for the tournament," Corcoran said.
Later in his interview, Woods did recant just a bit and said he believes Oak Hill's putting surfaces will probably get into that 12 range by the time the tournament starts.
"They just don't have a lot of grass on them," Woods said. "So not going to push them now and save them for tournament week. And I'm sure by Monday they'll get them up to speed. They're looking to get them at around 12 and 13 (on the Stimpmeter), but you don't want to do it for two weeks with how they are right now. Just save them for the week of the tournament."
Woods did say that Oak Hill's length - just over 7,100 yards - is fine.
"I didn't remember it playing as long as it did (for the 2003 PGA) when we played it (Tuesday)," said Woods . "Granted, it always plays long when you don't have the adrenaline flowing and it's not a tournament situation. But I had my (yardage) book from the last time we played, and most of the times where I hit a 2-iron I was hitting 5-wood, and 3-wood is still 3-wood and driver is still driver."