Tiger Woods says fast greens could turn US Open into ‘great war of attrition’

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Woods says the Pinehurst course will ‘test every single aspect of your game’.
Posted on
June 11, 2024
The Editorial Team in
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Tiger Woods is braced for a “war of attrition” as Pinehurst hosts the 124th US Open Championship.

Woods was third behind Payne Stewart at the North Carolina venue in 1999 and runner-up to Michael Campbell in 2005, but did not compete in 2014 due to a back injury.

Germany’s Martin Kaymer was the runaway winner a decade ago in the first US Open since restoration work by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore meant there was none of the typical heavy rough and narrow fairways, leaving sandy ‘native areas’ and ‘turtleback’ greens as the course’s defence.

Keeping a ball on the ninth green proved so difficult that a forward tee had to be used, with USGA officials wary of a repeat of the farcical scenes in the final round at Shinnecock Hills in 2004 when fast greens and a questionable pin position saw play stopped while the seventh green was watered.

Defending champion Wyndham Clark warned on Monday that the greens were already “borderline” and Woods predicted games of ping-pong could break out as players chip or putt from one side of a green to the other.

“This golf course is going to test every single aspect of your game,” the 15-time major winner said.

“It’s going to take a lot of mental discipline to play this particular golf course. We’ve been working on that and making sure that I understand the game plan and be ready in two more days.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods putts as his son Charlie watches on the seventh hole during a practice round for the US Open (George Walker IV/AP)

“It’s all different. I played it on bentgrass. So now having Bermuda, it’s very different. It’s grainy. I’ve used long irons and woods around the greens and I’ve seen a number of guys do the same thing.

“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. But I foresee just like in ’05 watching some of the guys play ping-pong back and forth. It could happen.

“That’s the beauty of playing Donald Ross (the original architect) golf courses, he tests you. And since the renovation here I think they’ve done an amazing job of doing that.

“We were talking about it the last couple of days. When Donald did this golf course and made the greens this severe, I don’t think he intended it to be running at 13 on the stimpmeter (a device used to measure green speed). They were the speed of fairways.

“They’re very severe and we’re playing under faster conditions. It’s more of a test. It’s going to be a great test and a great war of attrition this week. It’s going to be a lot of fun for all of us.

“We were half joking that by the end of the week it might be one of those Bermuda greens when they get so slick that you bend down to read a putt or bend down to fix a ball mark and your putter slips.

“I think it has that kind of look and that kind of sheen that it could get there by Sunday. It has that look and feel that this could be one of the Opens where whatever the leading score is, that’s probably as low as we’ll ever go after the first day.”

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