Two-time US Open champion Curtis Strange believes Tiger Woods will expect a better performance at next week’s US PGA Championship in Tulsa.

Woods, who won his 13th major title the last time Southern Hills hosted the US PGA in 2007, hasn’t played competitively since finishing 47th at the Masters.

That was the 46-year-old’s first top-level event since he suffered serious leg injuries in a car accident in Los Angeles in February last year, the 15-time Grand Slam winner later saying amputation of his right leg had been “on the way”. desk”.

The vehicle driven by Tiger Woods, which was traveling nearly twice the legal speed limit of 45 mph when it crashed in Los Angeles in February 2021 (Keiran Southern/PA)

Woods defied the odds by simply showing up at Augusta National and produced a remarkable opening 71 before understandably fading with rounds of 74, 78 and 78.

“We look back and it was lucky that he saved his leg,” said Strange, who won the US Open in 1988 and 1989 and is now an analyst for broadcaster ESPN.

“He was lucky to be alive, and there he is trying to play Augusta, and he did. When he did it on Thursday, I thought it was kind of a win, and I think he mentioned that too.

“Then when he made the cut I thought it was fantastic; great that he tried, great that he tried hard, great that he played well enough not to play for so long.

Former Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange (left) hopes for more from Tiger Woods (right) at the US PGA Championship. (Rebecca Naden/PA)
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“I think he was pleased for the week, I really am, because he discovered what he could do. And now he, not just us, I think he will expect a lot more from himself as well.”

Woods may not have played since the Masters, but he recently took a scouting trip to the Southern Hills, where he played all 18 holes with the club’s director of golf, Cary Cozby, as his caddy.

There have been a number of alterations to the field since Woods hit a second-round 63 on his way to victory 15 years ago, while the tournament itself has moved from being held in August to May.

And while the temperature isn’t forecast to match the 2007 heat wave, which prompted Colin Montgomerie to joke “at least it’s in the shade” after climbing the trees, Woods will appreciate the warm weather after frigid conditions in Augusta. .

“He’s had another five weeks or so to work on his body and get stronger,” said ESPN analyst and two-time US Open winner Andy North.

“It’s going to be warmer, which he likes. I thought the cold weather over the weekend (in Augusta) really hurt it.

“Southern Hills isn’t the easiest ride in the world, but it’s not like Augusta. I think overall he’s probably in a better place than he was the Thursday before the Masters. It will be interesting to see if his game indicates that.”

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