ESPN Analysts envision ideal PGA Championship scenario for Tiger Woods

Everybody hopes to cover Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship, no matter how he is playing. 
Tiger Woods - PGA Championship - Valhalla
Tiger Woods - PGA Championship - Valhalla / Donald Miralle/GettyImages

But for ESPN Golf Analysts Andy North and Curtis Strange, both two-time U.S. Open champs, they particularly hope for Tiger Woods to play well at a specific time.  

Andy North was very direct. 

“I think the key is, coverage-wise, we want him Friday afternoon,” he said.

“It keeps my energy level up,” said Strange.

Whether the golf gods grant North and Strange their wish is dependent on the tee times Tiger Woods receives. In fact, much of a victory is dependent on such seemingly small and fleeting situations.

Professional golf tee times in the first two rounds are most often arranged so that golfers tee off in the morning one day and in the afternoon the next day. It’s done that way to even out conditions for the field as a whole. You get the pristine greens one day. I get them the next.

Those who have won many tournaments are more likely to get the prime slots, 10 or 11 AM tee times in the morning and the 1 or 2 PM tee times in the afternoon. Those are the times golfers want.  

Newcomers to the PGA Championship and the Club Professionals are likely to get the very earliest and very latest times, which are least desirable. It’s a pecking order. Players like Woods and, lately, Scottie Scheffler have earned the best times as have Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Rickie Fowler, those who have won important tournaments or who are popular with fans.    

Regardless of their actual start time, one day it’s morning or “early” and one day it's afternoon or “late.” The ideal time combination for Tiger Woods is the early/late rota because that gives him more time between rounds one and two to do whatever it is he has to do to his body to recover. Ice baths, massages, and so forth, between rounds. Plus the warm-up routine that he has to go through just to play. 

At the recent Masters, Woods got late/early and the bad side of the weather. There his tee time combination meant even without the weather, he faced a hard time with recovery after the first round. The situation was made worse when there was a weather delay causing the first round to finish on Friday. Worse yet, Woods had to start his second round right away. 

While the tee times can definitely affect the outcome, there are other circumstances that come into play at any tournament, magnified at a major. One is the player’s feelings about the golf course.

Tiger Woods defeated Bob May in a playoff at the PGA at Valhalla in 2000.

He likely has a lot of good feelings for the place.

“He's played well at Valhalla,” North noted. “He's got some great memories there. He's got a lot of great shots he can step up on tees and remember hitting. I think that's really important.”   

Not having cold weather is also a bonus for Woods as far as North is concerned.

"This could be maybe the first major in a while that it's going to be warm. I think he needs the warm weather as much as anybody, and so many of the majors he's played in, the weather has been awful. Obviously he doesn't need a whole bunch of rain delays and stuff potentially this next week."

Curtis Strange said getting off to a good start is really important to Tiger Woods.

“It's important to every player but so important to him. He's got to keep in the game. We saw it a little bit at the Masters, the energy wore out, and there's not the goal of winning, so what else is there for him?” Strange asked, remembering the change of attitude that Woods brought to professional golf.  

"He came into every tournament and said that I'm here to win and that's it. Second sucks. He changed the game mentally because that's the way everybody goes into it now, whereas before it wasn't so much."

Strange wondered if Woods can continue good play for the entire tournament.

light. Next. Wells Fargo Championship Power Rankings. Wells Fargo Championship Power Rankings

“I think he'll hit a lot of good shots and make some putts, but can he do it over four days?” he asked.

Those are just some of the unknowables. Only Woods will be able to answer them. North and Strange just hope he does it late on Friday afternoon, and so do the millions of Tiger Woods fans.