Tiger Woods arrives at US Open at lowest ebb in career
It’s now seven years since best golfer of era has won a Major championship
Tiger Woods’s form this season doesn’t make for pretty analysis. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Out early, earlier than anyone. Later, working on the range, drilling ball after ball.
Once upon a time, it was a formula that worked its magic like no other. The routine gave Tiger Woods 14 Major titles. And when he captured this title at Torrey Pines in 2008, there seemed – at the time – almost an inevitability that, one day, he would overtake Jack Nicklaus as the game’s greatest champion.
Now, it is all so different. Woods hasn’t won a Major since getting that gold champion’s medal of seven years ago. He is here, at Chambers Bay, with hope rather than any great expectations.
In his last tournament outing, in the Memorial two weeks ago, he carded a third round 85 that rates as his worst ever round as a professional.
On his return on Sunday, it played completely different to how it had on that first scouting mission. “You just have to take in as much as you can,” said Woods. “All I am doing is looking at as much as I can, there’s a lot to look at . . . every hole seems like it is uphill,” quipped Woods.
Woods missed last year’s US Open at Pinehurst, where Martin Kaymer put on a masterclass. Of Woods’s 14 Majors, three of them have come in the US Open but his experiences since that last win at Torrey Pines have been typical of how his form has dipped and of how injuries have diluted his powers.
Woods missed 2014 and in 2011 due to injuries and he is without a top-10 in the championship since 2010.
Greg Norman, who is making his debut as analyst for Fox Sports, said of Woods: “It is going to take quite a mental effort to get out of the hole he’s in.”
In contrast, former tour player Notah Begay, a close friend of Woods, believes he can win another Major. “There’s a certain amount of genius that Tiger possesses as a player that none of us, no matter how much we know about the game, will ever understand,” said Begay.
Still, Woods’s form this season doesn’t make for pretty analysis. He has played just five times, missing the cut in Phoenix, withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance at Torrey Pines, finishing 17th at the Masters, tied-69 at the Players and 71st – and last – at the Memorial.