Tiger Woods spotted at Southern Hills ahead of next month’s PGA Championship

The 15-time Major winner raises hopes that he’ll be in the field for the Tulsa showdown after playing an 18-hole practice round.

When Tiger Woods completed an emotional return to golf at The Masters earlier this month he confirmed that he'd be teeing it up in the 150th Open at St Andrews in July.

It made perfect sense. In contrast to Augusta National, the Old Course is one of the flattest walks in golf which will mean less pressure on the leg that needed surgery following his car crash 14 months ago.

Tiger also described St Andrews as his "favourite course" in the world. No surprise given that he's won two of his three Claret Jugs there.

But between now and July there are two other Majors - the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in May and June's US Open at Brookline.

At Augusta, Tiger could only offer this: "I don't know if I will play Southern Hills."

Tiger was limping badly after his gutsy 47th-place finish but 18 days on from his final round at The Masters, Woods was spotted at Southern Hills on Thursday.

According to reports, Woods played an 18-hole practice round: a huge boost to his chances of teeing it up in the year's second Major which begins on May 19th.

The incentive to play is only heightened by Southern Hills being the scene of another of his Major triumphs.

Tiger Woods wins the 2007 PGA Championship at Southern Hills

Here, Planet Sport looks back at Tiger's past performances at the Tulsa venue.

1996 - Tour Championship

Just a couple of months after turning pro, Tiger played his way into the Tour Championship thanks to October wins at the Las Vegas Invitational and Walt Disney World Classic.

That was some feat given that only the top 30 players on the season-long Money List made it through.

That year's tournament was held at Southern Hills but, after an opening 70, Tiger's hopes nosedived via a second-round 78.

It emerged that his poor score came on the day his father Earl was taken into hospital with chest pains.

Woods added rounds of 72 and 68 to finish tied 21st on 8-over 288.

2001 - US Open

Five years on from his previous start at Southern Hills, Tiger returned there as a six-time Major winner and the two-time defending PGA champion after victories at Medinah (1999) and Valhalla (2000).

He'd also just completed the Tiger Slam, a victory at April's Masters meaning he could put all four Major trophies on his mantlepiece at the same time.

Woods was told in his pre-tournament press conference at Southern Hills that he was a red-hot favourite to win. Did he like his chances?

"Would I put money on me? Probably not. Just because I don't think it would be a good business decision, with those odds," Tiger told a laughing press room. "Now, do I like my chances? Yes, I do."

In the end, Tiger wasn't a factor.

Tiger Woods Southern Hills 2001

An opening 74 left Woods in 63rd place and a Friday 71 still only put him 43rd at halfway.

A pair of 69s on the weekend moved Woods up the leaderboard to finish tied 12th, seven behind the playoff number.

Tiger was asked later about comments from some that Southern Hills didn't suit him.

"I don't think you can really say that it doesn't suit me, because I didn't really hit the ball [on Thursday and Friday] the way I did on the weekend. If I would have done that at the beginning of the week, I might have given myself a better chance of winning."

2006 - PGA Championship

It had been a frustrating year for Tiger in the Majors ahead of August's PGA at Southern Hills.

He'd finished runner-up at both the Masters and US Open before being blown off course in tough conditions and taking tied 12th in The Open at Carnoustie.

But heading to Tulsa, Woods was on a high again after roaring to an eight-shot win in the previous week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone.

Talking about his tied 12th at Southern Hills in 2001, Woods said: "Last time I wasn't aiming the ball well coming into the event and it showed. If you don't hit the ball well going into a US Open you're going to get exposed, and I certainly did.

"This week, I'm hitting it a little bit better than I did then, so hopefully it will continue on Thursday. I like the golf course. I like the layout."

Comparing conditions, Woods added: "The fairways this week are narrower than they were for the [2001 US] Open, but the rough is not as deep. The greens, all 18, are the same speed. So that's nice."

Tiger got off to a steady start as a 1-over 71 left him in a tie for 23rd, six behind shock leader Graeme Storm of England.

But on day two, Woods played one of the great rounds, his 63 tying the then lowest single-round score in Major Championship history.

That feat had been achieved 22 times previously and Woods was within a fraction of a 62 when his putt at 18 somehow horseshoed around the cup and stayed above ground.

That gave him a two-shot lead and he extended it to three via a 1-under 69 on day three.

Woods led by five at one point on day four but eventually settled for a two-shot win as another 69 secured a winning total of 8-under 272. It was the 13th straight time he'd gone into the final round of a Major and got the job done.

As for overcoming his previous modest record at Southern Hills, Woods said: "We didn't do anything different, I was playing to exactly the same spots. Just executed better."

The stats supported him. Tiger ranked 9th for Driving Accuracy and 4th for Greens In Regulation compared to 42nd and 30th in those two categories in the 2001 US Open.

This was Tiger's first Major win as a father following the birth of daughter Sam a couple of months earlier.

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