(Reuters) - Tiger Woods is approaching his first appearance at the Wyndham Championship with eager anticipation for a reason that would have been inconceivable a few years ago.
Woods was delighted to discover during Wednesday's pro-am that players will not need to rely on their drivers very often at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina, which is rather short by today's standards.
And for Woods, who ranks near last on the PGA Tour for driving accuracy, the knowledge that the course requires mostly three-woods and two-irons off the tee is nothing but good news.
"This is fun. We play hardly any golf courses anymore in the States that I get (to use) my two-iron. This is one of those courses," Woods said after playing the pro-am with Chris Paul of the National Basketball Association's Los Angeles Clippers.
"My biggest concern is learning the greens so fast. I hadn't putted on Bermuda greens this fast in a very long time."
Woods, 39, decided to play in Greensboro for the first time because he is 187th in the FedExCup standings and needs a victory here to qualify for the lucrative four-event playoff series that starts next week.
He entered the event just before the deadline last Friday, but after missing the cut at the PGA Championship a day later, hedged his bets on whether he would play.
"I just wanted to see, first of all, how my body was going to be feeling after grinding it out trying to play Whistling Straits (and) if I was ready to go make a push to try and get in the playoffs,” he said ahead of Thursday's opening round.
Woods has been surpassed on the course by a new breed of talented young players. His world ranking has plunged to 286 and he is clearly past his prime but remains the man the fans want to see.
“He still draws the crowd and I think that's just a testament to his career and what he's been able to do,” 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson said of the 14-times major winner. “He's kind of like the Arnold Palmer of our generation. No matter how he plays, people want to follow him.”
Woods will be paired with Hideki Matsuyama and Brooks Koepka for the first two rounds. Australian world number 12 Adam Scott is the highest-ranked player in the field while Colombian Camilo Villegas is defending champion.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue)