Tour News

Woods talks US Open

(Photo: Bruce Young)
The Media centre at the US Open was packed to the rafters this morning as Tiger Woods gave his pre tournament press conference to the world's golfing media.

Woods spoke first about the venue for this week.

"I'm looking forward to it. I've played the golf course now a couple of times. And it's quick out there. It's getting there. It's getting up to speed. I'm sure that it will get quicker as the week goes on. But it's going to be a wonderful test.

"All the greens have obviously been redone since we were here in '98. The new chipping areas are certainly different. Got to get used to some of those different shots.

"I'm excited about playing. Excited about this golf course. I've played a lot here in college and it's great to be back."

"You have to curve it more off the tees here than any other golf course that we play. Even to the greens, you've got right to left slopes, let's say right to left slopes of fairways and greens, and you have to cut it, so you're going against the grain. It's the same thing on the flip side.

"That's the neat thing about this golf course is it seems like the majority of the doglegs kind of run away from you. And it puts a big premium on shaping the ball. But also it puts a big premium on game planning, what you want to do, where you want to hit it. And being committed to that."

Woods plays with Phil Mickelson in Thursday's opening round and was asked if he felt there would be a lot of conversation going on during their time together.

"I don't think we're going to talk about a lot. This is a Major championship. We've got work to do. Any extra motivation? No. I'm just trying to get out there and position myself for Sunday.

"This is a long grind. We're teeing off of No. 9, so we don't get to play obviously the first six holes until it's basically our back nine.

"It's such a test playing in this championship. I think this is one of those championships that I think the guys talk the least to one another because it's so difficult.

"Every shot is there's no shot you can take off, so to speak. Sometimes say you're playing St. Andrews, and you go ahead and wail away, no big deal. But here there's such a premium on positioning the golf ball. That I think this is the tournament that I think the guys least converse.

Woods was asked if he concurred with Jack Nicklaus' thoughts on the fact that the tougher the conditions were in major championships the greater chance he had of coming out on top.

"Well, I think that over the years I've always preferred it to be like that. I've always preferred it to be more difficult, there's no doubt. And I've always preferred it to be fast. I just like a fast golf course. Because then you have to shape shots. You have to think. You can't set up and hit your ball to a number and have it plug. The ball is going to have run out, have chase, what shape shot you're going to play. And the same things into the greens.

"That's also the reason I love playing links golf, because the ball does chase, it does move, it does move on the ground. And when the golf course gets harder and faster it is certainly something I like."
What is the major championship set-up that provides the most comprehensive test of a players game?

"I think this probably tests the player more than any other championship. We have to shape the ball. We have to hit the ball high. We have to hit the ball low. Our short game's got to be dialled in.

"The only thing that's different with U.S. Opens in past it was always, miss the green, automatic lob wedge. Now with some of these runoff areas, we can play bump and runs, we can play skip shots, we could flop it if we wanted to. We have different options. So I think what Mike (Davis) has done has been remarkable at testing us.

Woods was asked as to the chase to equal Jack Nicklaus' record 18 major championships and just how long he felt the window of opportunity would remain open for him to catch and pass that record.

"Well, Jack did it at 46, right? So I've got ten. Watson almost pulled it off at 59. It can be done. We can play for a very long time. And that's the great thing about staying in shape and lifting weights and being fit is that the playing careers have extended.

"Look how many guys are 50 plus still playing out here. And Tom Pernice just came back out and started playing. Guys are extending their careers and playing for a lot longer than they used to. Most of the guys used to shut it down in early 40s. But like Vijay, he won almost 30 events, just in his 40s alone."

Woods plays his opening round at 7.33on Thursday with Mickelson and Bubba Watson.

Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

More Articles from Bruce Young