By Rory Carroll
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Tiger Woods competes for his 16th major title at the PGA Championship this week on a TPC Harding Park course he knows well but will have to cope with August temperatures he is unaccustomed to when cool San Francisco fog blankets the area.
The Florida resident, who got to know the course on the shores of Lake Merced when he played at nearby Stanford University in the mid-1990s, has said his surgically-repaired back can tighten up in colder weather.
“I think that for me when it’s cooler like this, I need to make sure that my core stays warm, layering up properly,” a bundled up Woods told reporters on Tuesday.
“I know I won’t have the same range of motion as I would back home in Florida where it’s 95 degrees every day. That’s just the way it is.”
The famous San Francisco fog, which pours in from the Pacific Ocean in the summer, will likely be a bigger factor for the morning groups and Woods is scheduled to tee off on Thursday at 1:58 p.m. local time, when some of it may have burned off.
The fog, also called marine layer, also keeps the ball from flying as far at the course, which is a challenging 7,251 yard par-70 municipal layout.
“It’s going to be playing longer. It’s heavy air whether the wind blows or not, but it’s still going to be heavy,” he said.
“I’ve known that from all the years and times I’ve had to qualify up in this area… I think the weather forecast is supposed to be like this all week – marine layer, cool, windy -and we are all going to have to deal with it.”
The course, which underwent a massive renovation in 2002-2003, is famous for its overhanging Cypress trees, narrow fairways and nasty rough, which rewards accuracy off the tee.
“They have pinched in the fairways a little bit and the rough is thick, it’s lush,” said Woods.
“With this marine layer here and the way it’s going to be the rest of the week, the rough is only going to get thicker, so it’s going to put a premium on getting the ball in play.”
Despite the challenging conditions, the 44-year-old Woods, a four-time PGA Championship winner, beamed with confidence when asked whether he can win this week.
“Of course,” he said with a smile.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Ken Ferris)