Tiger Woods: LIV talks promising, ready for U.S. Open test at new-look Pinehurst

Tiger Woods agrees with Rory McIlroy that there is light at the end of the tunnel in PGA and LIV Golf negotiations following a meeting with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

“We’re closer to that point than we were pre-meeting. We discussed a lot of different endings and how we get there,” Woods said of the meeting in New York that included commissioner Jay Monahan.

“Both sides walked away from the meeting – we all felt very positive at the end of the meeting. Both sides are looking for different ways to get to the end game. … Yes, there are going to be differences of opinion but we all have the same goal in mind.”

Woods was back at Pinehurst No. 2 for the first time since winning on the course in 2005, prior to a major redesign. He also won on the course in 1999.

The most significant change in Woods’ opinion involves the off-the-cliff greens, which moved from bent grass with more predictable speed and less “ping-pong potential” to tap putts long, short and off the green.

Regardless of how intense of an experience the USGA decides to make the Open this week with challenging pin placements, Woods said he feels the mental strain will be significant on the entire field, but arrived in North Carolina trusting his fitness level is peaking and major tournament ready.

“I do, I feel like I have the strength to be able to do it. It’s just a matter of doing it,” said Woods, a three-time U.S. Open winner (2000, 2002, 2008). “This golf course is going to test every single aspect of your game. Especially mentally.”

On Tuesday night, Woods will be honored with the Bob Jones Award for his success in USGA events. He will make his 23rd start at the U.S. Open on Thursday.

The biggest difference in the Pinehurst No. 2 course now is the change to Bermuda grass, which Woods said will make shot selection options “more plentiful.”

To that end, Woods’ focused since the PGA Championship last month on working on his fitness but also on chipping and putting.

Woods said he’ll use his 56- and 60-degree clubs and even his 4-iron around the greens because the change in putting surface is “more grainy” to change the speed of shots depending on your launch point and angle.

“Nothing can prepare for the amount of shots you really can’t simulate on the golf course this week,” said Woods, who played at Pinehurst No. 2 last week to get a feel for the course in varied conditions.

“It’s going to feel like home. Hot and humid is what we deal with in Florida every single day. The mental tax the heat is going to bring is going impact all of us.”

Charlie Woods, Tiger’s son, has been alongside him this week. Tiger Woods said his presence makes the tournament more special regardless of how the game goes.

“It’s great for us to be able to share these moments together,” Tiger Woods said. “I trust him with my swing – he’s seen it more than anyone else in the world. I tell him what to look for, especially with the putting. I get so entrenched with hitting certain (shots). We have a great rapport and a great relationship like that.”

–Field Level Media