PGA Championship 2019: Tiger Woods practices in cold, rain at Bethpage Black

Written By Bob Hille
Tiger Woods
(Getty Images)

Tiger Woods is never one to mail it in while preparing for a major.

So neither rain nor cold could prevent him from his appointed round Monday at Bethpage Black, as he got out before 8 a.m. ET to play 18 in advance of this week's PGA Championship.

Wearing a black knit ski hat over his blue golf cap, Woods noted to ESPN.com, however, that it was a "good move" to visit Bethpage for a day last week, as the weather forecast ahead of this week's tournament isn't much better.

Caddie Joe LaCava concurred.

"Based on the forecast, it was really important to play last week," said LaCava. "And it was warmer. Hopefully, it will be warmer come Thursday, so that was big because we have an idea of yardages and runouts. We did a lot of work around the greens, which was nice."

The forecast for later in the week is, in fact, better, but that's a relative thing.

Temperatures beginning Wednesday are expected to be in the 60s, still with a 20- to 40-percent chance of rain on the tournament's four days as opposed to the 80- and 90-percent chances Monday and Tuesday with temperatures in the 40s. 

Woods, 43, didn't play in last week's PGA Tour stop, the AT&T Byron Nelson, instead focusing on preparation for the PGA as he seeks to win back-to-back Grand Slam events.

He got his first serious look at Bethpage Black since 2012, when the The Barclays was played there as part of the FedEx Cup playoffs. His five-hour practice round last week was played on a nearly empty course, according to ESPN.com.

Both Woods and LaCava said that given recent rain in the area and expected cool temperatures, Bethpage Black, a 7,459-yard, par-70 brute for previous majors there, is playing even longer. Case in point: Woods noted No. 7, normally a par-5 at the public venue, will play as a 524-yard par-4 this week. After a good drive in last week's round, Woods said he had 259 yards left to the green and came up short using first a 5-wood and then a 3-wood.

Woods is part of a subplot this week, minor in comparison to trying to record his 16th major victory but noteworthy: the race for the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.

He is one of five players who could leave Bethpage in the No. 1 spot. 

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 this week, followed by Justin Rose and defending PGA champ Brooks Koepka, who Woods is grouped with for the first and second rounds at Bethpage.

Rose or Koepka could rise to No. 1 with a win, as could world No. 4 Rory McIlroy. Woods, who rose from 13th to sixth after his win at the Masters last month, remains at No. 6 this week, not having played a competitive round since Sunday at Augusta.

Here's how Woods could move to No. 1 for the first time since March 2013: If he wins that 16th major title, Johnson finishes outside the top 10 and Rose and Koepka don't finish second this week.

Reigning British Open champion Francesco Molinari is grouped Woods and Koepka, who are scheduled to tee off at 8:24 a.m. ET Thursday.

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