Tiger Woods is a seven-time winner of the tournament now known as the WGC-Mexico Championship, but it’s a whole new challenge as he faces his first edition of the event at Club de Golf Chapultepec.
Woods told reporters Wednesday that he was still getting to grips with playing at high altitude, toying with the idea of adding loft to his three-wood and learning just how he needs to adjust his game.
“The most interesting thing is the ball just doesn’t curve up here at altitude, there’s just not enough resistance,” Woods said of what he saw in his first practice holes at the venue 7,800 feet above sea level.
“Shots that I thought I shaped just didn’t have any shape to it. That’s going to be one of the things I need to get organized.”
Woods won seven titles in the event at six different venues before it moved to Mexico City in 2017. Since then, back trouble – and his lowly ranking after lengthy time off because of injury – kept him out of the field.
Now he will be teeing it up in a tournament in Mexico for the first time, playing alongside fellow American Bryson DeChambeau and top-ranked Mexican Abraham Ancer in the first two rounds.
“This is exciting,” Woods said. “I’m sure there will be some amazing energy out there.”
Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, who ended a near five-year title drought with a playoff victory over Justin Thomas in the event last year, will play with Thomas and Dustin Johnson in the first two rounds.
Mickelson arrives with one title under his belt already this year, after earning his 44th PGA Tour victory at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Another featured group sees Northern Ireland star Rory McIlroy playing alongside world number two Brooks Koepka and Bubba Watson in a field that features 27 of the top 30 golfers in the world rankings.
Woods, who capped a comeback season with victory in the US PGA Tour’s Tour Championship last September and is now ranked 13th in the world, finds the company stimulating.
Beating the best
“I take a lot of pride in playing well in the biggest events, that being the majors, the Players (Championship), and the World Golf Championships,” he said.
“My record has been pretty good in those events,” added Woods, who owns a record 18 WGC titles. “So just because this event has been in different places, it’s still against the best players in the world and I’ve always enjoyed competing against them and trying to beat them and win an event.”
Woods will be making his third start of 2019, having finished tied for 20th at Torrey Pines and tied for 15th last week at the rain-hit Genesis Open – where Woods said he had “one of the worst weeks” he has ever had on the greens.
Even as he irons out various areas of his game with an eye toward the Masters in April, Woods said there was “really no comparison” to this time last year, when he “didn’t really know what my golf future would be”.
“Last year was a bit of a wandering world of how am I going to piece this together, how am I going to figure it out, what am I going to be capable of. By the end of the year I figured it out.”