‘He’s like Michael Jordan late in his career’: Pro dishes on Tiger practice round
Woods was scouting Southern Hills ahead of next month’s PGA Championship, and perhaps this is the best way to describe both how his day went and how his surgically repaired right leg held up:
He let a 13-year-old roll a few with the putter Woods has won 14 major championships with.
“Banks putts cross-handed, and Tiger told him that putter has never been hit cross-handed before,” Cozby’s dad, Cary, told Golf Oklahoma. “But he rolled a nice long one within two feet of the hole, and Tiger said, ‘That’s pretty damn good right there.’
The elder Cozby is the director of golf at Southern Hills, and last week, he got a call from the PGA of America asking if he could host a visitor. Woods was not so much wanting to play the course as he was wanting to see how he could walk it ahead of the PGA, a move he also made earlier this month at Augusta National, before the Masters.
Woods eventually decided to play that event, his first since his car crash 14 months ago, but he has only entered the PGA; he could still withdraw when things begin in less than three weeks. Still, ask Cozby whether the 15-time major champion will tee it up in Tulsa, and his caddie for the day has an idea.
“Unless he has a setback of some kind, he’s playing,” Cozby told Golf Oklahoma. “This trip was all business.”
Why the optimism?
“Everything is so smooth with him now,” Cozby told Golf Oklahoma. “His rhythm is great, he hit it straight and plenty far, he pitched and putted it great. I know guys can hit it past him now, but watching him work was amazing. He’s so meticulous, detailed and immersed in what he’s doing. He was very inquisitive on lines and the best angles.
“I think he can contend. He’s like Michael Jordan late in his career, playing defense and hitting jump shots. Whoever wins here is going to have to be a great chipper, and he is still that.”
Did Cozby have any concerns with Woods’ leg? Cozby also appeared on A New Breed of Golf on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio on Friday, and when asked by host Michael Breed about Woods’ ability to handle the walk at Southern Hills, Cozby did say he thought Woods was “hurting” toward the end of the day.
“Obviously his gait’s permanently, I’m guessing, different,” Cozby said on the show. “And he walks gingerly or just kind of like he is favoring it, but, and he maybe looked like he, late in the round [was] hurting, but he didn’t say a word. Of course, he didn’t complain about any of that. My guess is he got back from Augusta and he assessed it and knew what he was dealing with and went back to work just based on what you know about him for the past 25 years.
“And I think he’s, I mean, he’ll be fine and he hits it so good. And does everything, he chips it and putts it incredible. Just fun to watch. He forgot his sand wedge so just had his 60. Left it in the backyard, he said.”
And then Woods was gone. And his PGA watch continues. This weekend, he hosts his Tiger Jam charity event in Las Vegas, and one could guess Woods would have his answer on playing sometime before the week of the tournament.
And the frenzy could begin again.
“It’s amazing what he has to deal with on a daily basis,” Cozby said on A New Breed of Golf. “I mean, he came through today, he didn’t even come to the clubhouse because he knew what he’d have to deal with and went straight to the range. They sent a text and said … I’ll meet you on the first tee. And, of course, our clubhouse is open and so we probably had 20 people on the patio. The golf shop is in front of the first tee so there’s probably 20 members that slipped out there to watch him. He didn’t look up, hit his shot. Second hole, there’s a helicopter. Fourth hole, you know, there’s 50 to 70 people up on the hill overlooking that hole. And by the time we get to six, there’s 30 to 40 people in the trees across the street with television cameras and phones and pictures and ‘We love you, Tiger’ and ‘Go get ’em, Tiger’ ‘Great shot, Tiger.’