FARMINGDALE, N.J. (AP) — You know you’ve accomplished something big when your peers are in awe.
It’s been a month since Tiger Woods stunned the golf world by overcoming four back surgeries and periods when his troubled career appeared to be over by winning the Masters for his first major in 11 years.
Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy was still in awe Tuesday, two days before the start of the year’s second major, the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.
“I still don’t think people understand what he did in April and coming back, and with everything that he’s been through,” McIlroy said. “It’s unbelievable. Whether it’s the greatest comeback in sports, that’s probably up for debate, but from what I’ve experienced and the things that he said when I’ve been around him, to be 2½ years ago from looking like maybe not playing golf again to winning the first major of the year and being the favorite going into the second major of the year, I mean, that’s unbelievable.”
Like most golf fans, McIlroy sees a transformed Woods these days.
“I think he’s grateful and thankful that his kids get to see a little bit of what he was before they were around,” the two-time PGA Championship winner said. “So I think — it is different. He’s a different person. He’s in a different space in his life, and yeah, he just seems very grateful for this opportunity to do what he loves and compete.”
Vijay Singh became the third former champion to withdraw from the PGA Championship.
Singh, who won at Sahalee in 1998, cited a back injury for withdrawing. He was replaced by J.T. Poston, who will make his PGA debut.
Justin Thomas, who won at Quail Hollow in 2017, withdrew on Monday because a bone bruise in his right wrist hasn’t healed. He was replaced by Kelly Kraft. Last week, Davis Love III (Winged Foot in 1997) withdrew.
Thomas’ withdrawal keeps the PGA Championship from having all of the top 100 from the world ranking at Bethpage Black.
Tiger Woods is the Masters champion going for the second leg of the Grand Slam at Bethpage Black. The last time the PGA Championship was held in May was in 1949, when Sam Snead won. Snead also was the reigning Masters champion. … Max Homa makes his major championship debut this week and already has a trophy. He won the Long Drive Competition with a 318-yard drive on the 16th hole. … Craig Bowden is among 13 players competing in all three majors at Bethpage Black. He qualified for the U.S. Open in 2002 and 2009, and he qualified for the PGA Championship as a club pro.
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