Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Woods eager to find form at USPGA

The USPGA Championship, Whistling Straits, 12-15 August
Coverage: Live on Sky Sports, BBC Sport website, with updates on 5 live

Tiger Woods at Whistling Straits
Woods's last major was over two years ago at the US Open in 2008

Tiger Woods is hoping to put an end to a poor run of form at the USPGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

The world number one is without a major win for two years and is on the back of his worst professional showing at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last week.

"I've done some good work the last two days...and hopefully I'll be ready come Thursday," he said.

Woods tees off with defending champion Yang Yong-eun and 2004 winner Vijay Singh in the first round.

The 34-year-old is two places away from being in the top eight needed to earn an automatic spot for the USA's Ryder Cup team following a tumultuous nine months, which have seen him taking a break from the sport to deal with allegations about his private life.

The events have had an adverse effect on Woods's intimidating aura, which has helped him earn him 14 majors in his professional career.

There's going to be a lot of guys here thinking that it's the right time for them to break through, and I'm definitely one of those guys

World number eight Rory McIlroy

He ended 18 over par in Ohio on Sunday, the worst score of his professional career, to finish 78th out of a field of 80 in a tournament he has previously won on three occasions.

Woods has pinpointed limiting the movement of his head during the swing, requesting caddie Steve Williams to hold the end of a club against the top of his head during a practice session.

"It's something I have worked on over the years," said Woods, who missed the 2008 Ryder Cup victory at Valhalla following knee surgery.

"I was rocking my head all over the place and it was allowing the shaft to lay down and from there it's all timing, so I couldn't get the club out in front of me."

One man with plenty of confidence going into the final major of the year is Louis Oosthuizen, winner of the Open at St Andrews last month.

Louis Oosthuizen
Oosthuizen is hoping his good form continues at Whistling Straits

The South African lines up with fellow major winners Phil Mickelson (Masters) and Graeme McDowell (US Open) on Thursday on the links-like 7507-yard, par 72 course.

"I think it's a nice confidence boost going out there and it's just a matter of putting everything off the golf course out of your head when you're on the golf course," said the 27-year-old.

"I'm looking forward to just going out and seeing what it's like teeing off. Hopefully the wind kicks up a little bit, but you don't want it too strong out here either."

Playing partner Mickelson recently admitted he is suffering with psoriatic arthritis and has been injecting himself weekly with a drug that he has been told to take for the next year.

"Now that we seem to have a treatment that works and I feel great and I can work out and practise again I'm looking forward to getting my game sharp for this week and the FedExCup and the Ryder Cup," said the left-hander.

World number eight Rory McIlroy is among a chasing group of hopefuls optimistic about breaking their majors duck at Whistling Straits.


The 21-year-old, who hit a scintillating 63 in the first round of the Open at St Andrews before a disappointing second-round 80, is hoping to capitalise on the uncertainty of the big names to claim his first major win.

"There's going to be a lot of guys here thinking that it's the right time for them to break through, and I'm definitely one of those guys," said McIlroy, who clinched his first PGA tour win after carding a course record 62 at Quail Hollow in May.

"You can never write the likes of Tiger and Phil off. But guys have a lot better chance coming into this event with those two guys not playing great and Lee [Westwood] obviously not playing."

Defending champion Yang Yong-eun, who shocked Woods last year to became the first Asian-born male winner of a major championship, is hoping this year's tournament will kick-start his year.

He has made 13 of 17 cuts but has finished in the top 10 only twice, with a best finish of third at the Phoenix Open in February.

"For the past year I haven't been doing that great and maybe people think that I may not win this one again," said the 38-year-old.

"So in that respect maybe that's why I am flying under the radar."

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