Scott Reid watched the Masters on Sunday and realized the upcoming PGA Championship at Bethpage Black will need to brace for a new wave of Tigermania.
Tiger Woods won his 15th major championship and fifth Masters on Sunday and now needs three more majors to tie the record of 18 owned by Jack Nicklaus. His next chance to move a step closer will come at the Black, where the PGA Championship will be held May 16-19 and where Woods won the U.S. Open in 2002.
“It doesn’t hurt that was the outcome,” Reid, the PGA’s championship director, told The Post. “It definitely raises the level of excitement a notch or two. Whenever you’re in New York, you’re going to have great crowds and really diehard sports fans. I think we’re expecting the same when the PGA Championship comes to Bethpage.”
Woods, 43, has already been installed as an 8/1 favorite to win what would be his fifth PGA Championship. Woods claimed his fifth green jacket Sunday, his first major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open and rejuvenating a career that seemed ruined after four back surgeries.
Reid, 50, has watched the rise, fall, and now the rise of Tiger Woods and is excited about his return.
“When Tiger was at his best and the top of his game, everybody was anticipating he wasn’t going to have any issue getting to the 18 major championships he’s been chasing,” Reid said. “Then he started having health and body issues. There was a little deflation he wasn’t going to be able to continue to make that run. Now I think everybody is thinking about it again.”
Bethpage should conjure pleasant memories for Woods, who won the 2002 U.S. Open there by three strokes over Phil Mickelson. It was his eighth major and came two months after winning the Masters. He also rallied from an opening-round 74 at the 2009 U.S. Open played at the Black to finish four strokes behind one-hit wonder Lucas Glover.
Expect the Long Island crowds to go bonkers with Woods chasing back-to-back majors and renewing his pursuit of Nicklaus’ record.
“People had put it out of their mind that it was possible given what happened to him with the injuries and all,” Reid said. “I think everybody is excited about the opportunity again. I don’t think people think [winning Masters] is one and done. I think people feel he has it in his tank to win more.”
The PGA Championship has been moved up from its normal August date, and organizers were concerned whether the course would be ready so soon after winter. Fortunately, things have gone well.
“Not knowing what the weather was going to do was certainly on our mind,” Reid said. “But we were fortunate to have a mild winter. We’re really pretty fortunate.”
Reid said there has been no drastic change to the Black since the U.S. Open so golfers like Woods, who played in those two events, could have an advantage over younger players who will see the course for the first time.
“There’s not really anything you need to do to it, it’s such a good golf course,” Reid said.
Reid said tickets for the PGA Championship remain available for Monday through Friday. Saturday is sold out and only a few tickets remain for Sunday. Reid said the PGA is planning for 200,000 to attend through the weekend.
The PGA is a special major because it represents thousands of PGA professionals across the nation, who benefit from waves of interest in the sport. Woods has created another wave.
“I certainly think the excitement level is there,” Reid said. “Hopefully that will continue and he’ll continue to stay healthy and continue to play. That’s all we can ask for and when he gets in the hunt, that’s a bonus.”
Woods’ Masters win is already a bonus for the PGA Championship and the Black.
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