(Reuters) – Tiger Woods plans to take advantage of a new rule that allows players to leave the flag in the hole while putting, the former world number one said ahead of his first start of the season at Torrey Pines this week.
The U.S. Golf Association implemented a host of new rules this year designed to speed up the pace of play and Woods said there were situations where leaving the flag in would help.
“Some of the putts where the hole is kind of visible as it comes up over a rise … it would be nice to have a reference point so I’ll probably leave it in for those kinds of putts,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
The 14-times major champion said he had also practiced leaving the flag in when putting downhill.
“It just felt like I could hit it more aggressively, which I did and I started running it eight to nine feet by (the hole),” he said.
“It might be more advantageous when we get on faster greens with a little more slope, i.e. Augusta,” he said, referring to the Masters.
“It will give you more security on a three to four footer down the hill. You can just take a cut at it.”
The 43-year-old said his body was feeling good as he prepares to kick off his 2019 campaign after he capped a dramatic comeback last year with his 80th PGA Tour win at the Tour Championship in September.
Woods said he was moved to discover how much the triumph meant to those who had stuck by him as he battled back from five years of injury and fitness woes, including a successful 2017 spinal fusion.
“Players, friends, people who saw what I went through at home, they saw the difficult times,” he said.
“And for them to see that I had made it this far back, that was touching to me because I didn’t really expect that.
“I’m inside the ropes, I knew what it took for me. But I didn’t know it would have affected anyone else.”
(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Peter Rutherford)