Woods's Medinah memory fades

2006-08-16 11:47

Medinah - Tiger Woods's sharpest memory of his 1999 PGA Championship victory at Medinah is the putt he made on the 17th green to hold off a charging Sergio Garcia.

Seven years on, he is disappointed the green has become as distant a memory as his tricky eight-footer for par.

In a restoration project which began in 2002, course architect Rees Jones made several changes to Medinah's No. 3 Course, most notably returning the green at the par-three 17th to its original position close to the edge of Lake Kadijah.

"The thing that comes to my mind most (about 1999) is no longer there, the 17th green, when (caddie) Stevie (Williams) and I read that putt and I made that putt to save par," American Woods told a news conference on Tuesday.

"That green is no longer there. I keep thinking about it in the brain since it's no longer physically there. I can't go back and hit putts there and reminisce anymore."

Woods, hunting his second major title at the 1999 PGA Championship, held a five-stroke lead going into the final round.

However, he was chased hard by the 19-year-old Garcia and his advantage had been cut to one when he struck a seven-iron off the 17th tee over the back of the green, positioned on higher ground for that year's tournament.

Inside left

After chipping up to eight feet, Woods studied the line of the putt from all angles before his caddie told him with confidence to aim inside left.

Following instructions to the letter, Woods rolled the putt into the bottom of the cup and collected a routine par at the last to seal victory by a stroke.

Seven years on, British Open champion Woods is back at Medinah hunting a 12th career major. Just as the 17th green has been radically transformed since his 1999 triumph here, so too has his life.

"My life has changed quite a bit on and off the golf course, and I think it's been a maturation process," said the world number one, who became a married man at the end of 2004 and mourned the death of his father Earl in May this year.

"I was still very young to the Tour then. I was in my third year, but I think it takes probably a good five years to really and truly understand the Tour.

"I was still new and fresh to the whole thing of being a professional golfer."

Woods, the best player since Jack Nicklaus has learned quickly. He has become the fastest player in PGA Tour history to pile up 50 career wins and has set his sights on overhauling the Nicklaus record of 18 major titles.

Regardless of where the green is positioned on the 197-yard 17th, he is the player to beat at Medinah this week.

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