Memorial win boosts Woods for US Open
AFP LAS VEGAS
WITH his long victory drought behind him, Tiger Woods arrives at the 112th US Open at The Olympic Club seeking to end yet another dry spell — four years without a major championship title.
A victory at The Memorial in his final US Open tuneup had fans atwitter, but after an erratic season that has included two USPGA Tour victories, a disappointing Masters and a whiff of injury, Woods said he’ll leave it to others to make the definitive statement “Tiger’s back”.
“I won,” Woods said of the significance of his Memorial triumph, drawing a laugh.
“I’m sure by Tuesday I’ll be retired and done, and then by the time I tee it up at the US Open it might be something different. I’ll let you guys figure that out.” A first major triumph since he hobbled to victory at the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines on an injured left leg would settle the question.
Woods snapped a 17- month win drought in March at Bay Hill. But two weeks later he finished only 40th in the Masters, his worst performance at Augusta National as a professional and the first time he had finished outside the top 25 in two straight majors as a pro.
Woods missed the cut at the US PGA Championship last August after missing both the US Open and British Open in 2011 with left knee and Achilles injuries.
Woods said his win at The Memorial gave him more reason for optimism than his Bay Hill victory.
“At Bay Hill I played well on that Sunday, but I just didn’t quite have the control.
That was different,” he said. “I’m able to hit the ball, I think, compressing it higher than I did at Bay Hill.
“As I said at Augusta, I got exposed, wasn’t able to get the ball up in the air comfortably, and it showed.” He’ll need all of that at The Olympic Club’s Lake Course, a par-70 layout that features numerous elevation changes and awkward sloping lies.
If Woods can conquer it, he’ll remain ahead of the pace Jack Nicklaus set in winning his 18 majors — a record Woods has long aimed to surpass.
Woods has played 57 major championships as a professional, while Nicklaus claimed his 15th major title in his 67th attempt, at the British Open at St. Andrews in 1978.
It once seemed inevitable that Woods would break Nicklaus’s record. But a whirlwind of personal scandal in 2009 disrupted his professional as well as his personal life and the road back has been anything but smooth.
His glossy reputation took a hit, and as the wins evaporated his world ranking plummeted.
Woods, who has quietly climbed back to fourth in the world, insists the record remains within his reach.
“I figure it’s going to take a career,” Woods told fans in an on-line chat last month. “It took Jack 24 years. This is my 17th year into it.
“I still feel like I’ve got plenty of time. It’s about giving myself the most amount of opportunities to win them on the back nine on Sunday.
“The more chances I give myself, I figure I’m going to clip a few of them.”