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tiger woods us open

What has changed since Tiger Woods last played the US Open at Pinehurst?

Since Tiger Woods last played a US Open at Pinehurst in 2005, countless changes have occurred in his life. Whether he realised it or not, he alluded to some of these changes in his press conference on Tuesday…

 

Tiger Woods’ visit to Pinehurst last week was the first time he’d been at the famed venue since he came second at the 2005 US Open.

He was beaten two shots behind Michael Campbell 19 years ago and by Payne Stewart in 1999 by the same margin. Of course, this isn’t the same Tiger as the first two occasions when the No.2 course in North Carolina took up US Open hosting duties.

An infinite amount of changes have occurred in the life of Woods, or anyone, since he was last at Pinehurst. He has 15 major titles which incidentally is the number of years his son Charlie has now been on earth.

The golf course itself has changed thanks to a restoration completed in 2011 by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw who removed the rough and shaped the fairways and bunkers in the style of the original Donald Ross design.

Woods might still be fleetingly competing on the PGA Tour 28 years after turning professional but his off-course duties, overseeing his son’s own progress as a golfer and the progress of the tour’s negotiations with the Public Investment Fund of Saudia Arabia, are now coming to the fore.

Whether he realised or not, Woods discussed each of these variables in his press conference at the 124th US Open on Tuesday, and each variable alludes to a mass change in his life since he last strolled around the pine needles and sandhills of Pinehurst.

tiger woods us open

(All images courtesy of USGA)

Tiger Woods’ son is trusted with his swing

Tiger Woods’ quest for the right golf coach could be compared to the managerial merry-go-round of a Premier League football club. Having enjoyed sustained success under the tutelage of Butch Harmon, he jumped from Hank Haney to Sean Foley to Chris Como thereafter.

In 2005, Woods could never have predicted that the next time he would go to Pinehurst for a US Open his son Charlie would be the one surveying his swing and giving him pointers as he looks to win America’s national title for a fourth time, but perhaps more realistically, to make the cut for the first time since 2019.

“As far as his responsibilities, it’s the same. I trust him with my swing and my game. He’s seen it more than anybody else in the world. He’s seen me hit more golf balls than anyone. I tell him what to look for, especially with putting.

“He gave me a couple little side bits today, which was great, because I get so entrenched in hitting certain putts to certain pins, I tend to forget some of the things I’m working on. I just want to see the balls rolling. He reminds me every now and again, which is great. We have a great relationship and rapport like that, and it’s a wonderful experience for both of us.”

tiger woods us open

(All images courtesy of USGA)

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Tiger Woods: Pinehurst No.2 is ‘all different’ compared to 2005

Woods made crucial mistakes on holes 16 and 17 to surrender the US Open title to New Zealand’s Michael Campbell in 2005. He would need to wait until 2008 to win his next US Open title.

But what Woods sees now is a restored golf course courtesy of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Completed in March 2011, the fairways and bunkers have been reshaped in the style of the original design by Donald Ross. Instead of bermudagrass rough, the course now has sandy scrub areas with rugged aesthetics that had been lost over the years. This will also be the first US Open to use ultra dwarf bermudagrass greens when they used to be bentgrass.

“I played it under bentgrass. So now having Bermuda, it’s very different. It’s grainy. We had the grain on the greens during those Open Championships, and they were softer than they are now. Granted, I know the surrounds were burnt out in ’05, but the greens were not like what they are right now. That’s very different.

“The shot selections around the greens I think are more plentiful this year from either putting it to wedging it. As you said, 6- or 7-irons. I’ve used long irons and woods around the greens, and I’ve seen a number of guys do the same thing. There’s a lot of different shot selections, and the grain is going to play a big part of it.

“The last few days playing practice rounds – I’m guilty as well as the rest of the guys I’ve played with – we’ve putted off a lot of greens. It depends how severe the USGA wants to make this and how close they want to get us up to those sides. But I foresee just like in ’05 watching some of the guys play ping-pong back and forth. It could happen.”

Most recent talks between the PGA Tour and the PIF were ‘productive’

You might be curious as to what is going on in the latest talks between the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, as updates have been few and far between, and largely insignificant, in recent weeks.

You might also be grateful not to have heard about these negotiations which were first made public on June 6 last year. The news shocked the golf world as the PIF funds the LIV Golf League which, since its inception in June 2022, has been the direct rival to the PGA Tour.

Woods is a player director on the PGA Tour Policy Board and a member of the Transaction Sub-committee which belongs to PGA Tour Enterprises, the for-profit entity of the US circuit.

The idea of being part of any sort of committee associated with how the tour operates would’ve been alien to Woods’ priorities 20 years ago, as he continued his chase-down of Jack Nicklaus’ 18-major haul.

The Transaction Sub-committee is responsible for dealing with the PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan and there was a meeting in New York last Friday between the parties that Woods was asked about on Tuesday.

“It was productive. And is there light at the end of tunnel? I think we’re closer to that point than we were pre-meeting. We discussed a lot of different endings and how we get there.

“I think that both sides walked away from the meeting, we all felt very positive in that meeting. As I said, both sides were looking at different ways to get to the end game. I think that both sides shared a deep passion for how we need to get there. And yes, there are going to be differences of opinion, but we all want the same thing.”

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What do you think this Tiger Woods US Open will look like? Surely we couldn’t see another Tiger Woods US Open win, could we? Tell us on X!

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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