Tiger Woods gets in practice round at Shinnecock Hills in preparation for start of U.S. Open in two weeks.
Tiger Woods is playing the Memorial Tournament this week, but his sights are already set on the U.S. Open.
Woods travelled to Shinnecock Hills in New York, site of the year’s second Major Championship, on Memorial Day. It was a chance to get in some practice in anticipation of the start of the U.S. Open on June 14.
This year’s U.S. Open will mark 10 years since Woods’ last major triumph. In 2008, he beat Rocco Mediate in a playoff at Torrey Pines for his 14th title. Since then, injuries have kept his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ career mark of 18 majors stuck in neutral.
“We all have to learn how to win again,” Nicklaus said at his Memorial press conference. “He has got to get through the barrier of not having done it for a while. When you haven’t won that always happens, and that’s human nature.”
Shinnecock last hosted the U.S. Open in 2004. But those like Woods who played then will find a course that has changed considerably. It will measure nearly 500 yards longer than it did 14 years ago. The fairways have also been widened and rough around the greens cut down, creating more spots where approach shots could run away from the green.
Woods finished tied for 17th at the 2004 Open. Retief Goosen won that year by two shots over Phil Mickelson, one of six times Mickelson has been runner-up in the tournament.
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The course setup back then was heavily criticized. Lack of water made the greens too quick. Balls that landed on the putting surfaces had a hard time stopping. The par-three seventh hole was particularly panned. Mickelson three-putted from three feet there during the third round.
Mike Davis, executive director of the United States Golf Association, assures players they will get it right this time.
“Looking back at 2004, and at parts of that magnificent day with Retief and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end, there are parts that we learned from,” Davis said at the U.S. Open media day. “I’m happy we got a mulligan this time. We probably made a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.”
Woods will tee off with Justin Rose and Jason Dufner at the Memorial. He has won the event five times, most recently in 2012. But it was also the site of his worst round as a professional, an 85 in 2015.