Why We Miss Tiger At The U.S. Open
A look at Tiger Woods' illustrious past wins at the U.S. Open.
Released on 6/15/2016
I've known Tiger since he was 13 years old.
A young, incredibly talented prodigy of golf.
Who then developed into being
one of the greatest sports figures in history.
And when I think of Tiger in the US Open,
it's like, you want to see Baryshnikov,
and you want to see Jordan.
It's a chance to see a great figure.
When I think of Tiger Woods' first US Open
in 1995 at Shinnecock Hills.
Obviously my first thought is that he withdrew
with a sprained left wrist.
My second thought is,
that it reinforced his idea that weightlifting
and training was gonna become extremely important
for his longevity.
The first time Tiger contended in a US Open
was 1999 in Pinehurst.
Where he played erratically until the last round,
and really got it together with some late birdies.
However, bogeyed the 17th hole.
Missing an eight foot putt.
Ended up tying for third.
So the next year Tiger arrives at Pebble Beach,
and puts on one of the great performances of his career.
He wins by 15 shots, he's 12 under par.
The next closest golfer is three over par.
He putted incredibly.
34 one putts, no three putts.
It was a bravoure performance.
As good as golf's ever seen.
The biggest impression I had from him was how calm he was.
How serene he was that week.
He had a perfect attitude.
And that was Tiger at his best mentally.
Where he could forget and move on and stay in the moment
better than any golfer in the field.
It was one of his great advantages.
When Tiger arrived at Bethpage for the 2002 Open,
he was coming off a victory at The Masters
in the previous major.
He played quite well, he won quite easily.
At that moment,
Sergio was considered probably Tiger's future challenger.
And then in the Sunday round,
he and Tiger were paired together.
Tiger thoroughly dominated him.
Mentally, and certainly with the skills on the course.
And it seemed to me a turning point moment,
in terms of Tiger's relationship as a golfer with Sergio.
2006 Tiger's first major was The Masters
and he really wanted to win because his father was ailing,
and essentially dying.
And Tiger didn't win.
He finished tied for third.
He was really disappointed.
Earl passed away May 3rd.
He took a lot of time off,
and he kind of came to the US Open at Winged Foot.
Not particularly prepared,
but thinking that he could handle it.
And turned out that he realized his head
was not really in it, and he ended up missing the cut.
The one US Open that stands out for me the most
when it comes to Tiger Woods was 2008 at Torrey Pines.
It was a miracle week because after The Masters
Tiger had his knee cleaned out for cartilage damage.
And it was discovered that he had a completely torn ACL.
But Tiger actually played his first round at Torrey Pines.
It was the first 18 hole round he played without a cart,
since The Masters.
Each night he had to get massaged
by his therapist Keith Kleven to get the swelling out,
and Steve Williams would get worried about him, his caddy,
and say, Tiger, you know, are you sure you can keep going?
And Tiger would give him an epithet and say,
Steve, we're gonna win this tournament.
I'm goddamnit, I'm gonna win this tournament.
But it became kind of a funny theme,
and a way of sort of cathartically
getting past all the pain.
And it was like a rallying cry, a war cry that week.
He led the driving distance statistics 325 yard average.
So, while he had great pain,
he swung through it with great force.
Tiger comes into the 72nd hole trailing by one.
He hits his drive left, he tries to come out with an iron,
and he mis-hits it, hits it fat.
And gets it over to the right rough about 100 yards
from the green.
He wants to hit a 54 degree wedge.
Steve Williams overrules him and says,
You've got to hit a 60 degree wedge,
And swing really hard at it,
That's the only way you'll ever produce enough spin
To hold it close to the hole.
Tiger trusted him.
He had a great shot.
It stopped on the green.
Close, about 12 feet.
And then Tiger had that putt that tied for the US Open.
He calmed himself, he hit a great putt
and luck was with him with winning.
It's arguably the greatest putt ever hit
in major championship.
So Tiger goes on to defeat Rocco Mediate,
on the 19th hole of the playoff.
It's his 14th major championship.
So what we saw at Torrey Pines
was the most miraculous major championship
of Tiger Woods' career.
But it was also, at least for the moment,
the end of Tiger Woods' winning major championships.