Tiger Woods feels distance issues in golf should have been addressed ‘a long time ago’

Tiger Woods cannot foresee a quick resolution to the distance issues in golf and admitted the sport’s authorities “should have been worried a long time ago”.

The distance debate has been one of the hottest topics in golf this year, with many observers – and players – expressing concerns about the ever-increasing distances being achieved by the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, in particular.

DeChambeau prioritised power over accuracy for the US Open at Winged Foot last month, and his aggressive strategy paid off as he stormed to a six-shot victory and was the only man to complete 72 holes under par on a course described by Woods as one of the top-three toughest layouts on the major rota.

The concerns over the direction the game is heading in have been amplified by the tactics of a bulked-up DeChambeau, who is currently testing a new driver with a 48-inch shaft which could see him achieving unprecedented distances off the tee at the Masters next month.

The R&A and USGA released a Distance Insights Report in February, with the sport’s two biggest governing bodies proposing various measures to curb the new breed of power players, but Woods feels the issues should have been addressed years ago.

“They should have been worried a long time ago, but the genie’s out of the bag now,” said Woods ahead of this week’s Zozo Championship in California, where he defends the title he won in Japan last October.

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“It’s about what do we do going forward and how soon can they do it, but I don’t know if you’re going to stop the guys who are there right now. Guys are figuring out how to carry the ball 320-plus yards, and it’s not just a few of them.

“There are a lot of guys can do it, and that’s where the game’s going. There’s only going to be a small amount of property that we can do, where we can alter golf courses.

“I just don’t see how they can roll everything back. I would like to be able to see that, as far as our game, but then we go back down the road of what do you bifurcate, at what level?

“So that’s a long discussion we’ve had for a number of years, for 20-plus years now, and I think it’s only going to continue.

“Distance has always been an advantage. Now that we have the tools, that being the launch monitor, the fitting of the golf clubs, the adjustability. I think all that plays into the fact that you’re able to maximize the capabilities of a driver.

“There’s no reason why you can’t pick up more yardage and guys have done that. They’ve changed shafts, they’ve changed lofts, they’ve changed weights on their heads and length of clubs.

“Driving is such a huge part of the game and it’s so advantageous if you’re able to get the ball out there. It just makes the game so much easier.”

Woods is making only his eighth start of the year at Sherwood Country Club, where he hosted the Hero World Challenge 14 times and won five of them, and he hinted at possible adding the Houston Open to his schedule to give him extra competition ahead of his Masters defence at Augusta National.

“I think my plan is just to play and practice,” he added. “I don’t know if I’m going to play Houston or not. I’m not playing next week, and we’ll see how this week goes and make a decision from there.

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“It’s not normally this time of year, and it’s not normally played this way, the configuration of events. We’re not in a Florida swing. This is all different. This whole year’s been different for all of us. The fact that the Masters will be held in November, it’s unprecedented, never been done before.

“I can’t simulate the normal ramp-up that I normally have, and I don’t think anyone else can either. It will be different for all of us. The fact that we have no spectators is going to be very different optically for a lot of us. It will be like how we normally play practice rounds there when we kind of go out there.

“And my run-up to Augusta is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. That’s just the way it is. The whole idea is to be ready in a few weeks and whether or not that’s playing one more event, whether that’s Houston or just playing here at Zozo, just making sure that I’m ready for Augusta.”

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