Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tiger Woods previews U.S. Open venue Merion

Tiger Woods played Merion, the site of the upcoming U.S. Open, on Monday for the first time. In June, Woods will attempt to win his 15th major and 4th U.S. Open. He answered questions about it at his press conference for this week's Memorial tournament, hosted by Jack Nicklaus.

Here are a few segments.

Q.  Tiger, going back to Merion, can you talk to us about your initial thoughts?  It's your first time seeing the golf course, if I'm correct.
TIGER WOODS:  As I said, I did not have‑‑ from what everyone said, I did not have the inkling that it was going to be as long as it was.  As I said, it was raining sideways and it was just an ugly day.  We played it as probably long as it will ever be played. In June, obviously the weather won't be like that.  It will be hotter.  The ball will be flying.  The clubs will be different, but the lines will be the same.  It was nice to see and get an understanding of what I need to visualize and my prep next week and get ready for that.  Have a nice understanding of where my sight lines are going to be and where I need to land the ball.  Obviously it will be different clubs.  Won't be quite as long as it was playing yesterday.

Q.  Secondly, more specific, have you ever seen a stretch like the middle there of such one short par‑4 after another not only at a major but any golf course at a tournament level?
TIGER WOODS:  Excluding the length of some of the holes, those par‑3s are really long and some of the par‑4s are really long.  The middle stretches, if it drys out and it plays firm and fast, it's very similar to what we face in the sandbelt courses.  It's sometimes 5‑irons off the tees.  The ball is going to be running, it's going to be chasing.  You have a wedge in.  Doesn't mean you are going to make birdie.  Some guys will be making bogeys.  It's hard to hit some of these fairways even with those clubs.  If they start tucking these pins and start getting them as fast as they want to have them, you will be firing away from the flags even with the sand wedge.  As I said, very similar to what we face on the sandbelt.

Q.  All the majors are obviously special, but when you think of Merion and the connotation of great history and so on and so forth, does that bring a greater meaning to play at a place like Merion as opposed to another?
TIGER WOODS:  If you look at the list of champions, they have all been really good shot‑makers.  They have all been able to shape the golf ball.  I think that's what it lends itself to.  I mean, you have to be able to shape the golf ball.  And you have to be so disciplined to play that course.
And if you look at the list of champions, they are very disciplined players.  You play to certain spots.  You play to certain spots on the greens.  You leave yourself certain putts and you deal with it and you move on.  Sometimes you may have a short iron or wedge into the hole.  Even like the 13th, you are teeing off with a pitching wedge.  They have an up tee that they've cordoned it off, so you might be hitting a 60‑degree or sand wedge into a par‑3.  If they put the pin right, you are not going to be firing at it.  So you have to be disciplined. It's like when we played at Pebble and that seventh hole, they moved it to the up tee, far right pin, you have 60‑degree sand wedge in your hand and you are not taking a run at that flag.  You're putting it 15 feet left of the flag and moving on.  This is a golf course very similar to that.  You have to be able to put the ball in the correct spots and be disciplined about it. 

Q.  Earlier today Jack was kind of emphatic in saying that he doesn't think somebody can hit two or three drivers around Merion and win The Open.  I just wondered, given him saying that and you seeing Merion yesterday, did you get a sense in those messy conditions of how many drivers you might hit around there?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, yesterday I hit quite a few just because of the conditions.  You know, it's all dependent on where‑‑ if it drys out or not.  If it plays long, there are certain holes that are long holes.  You have got to get it down there.  If it drys out, you know ‑‑ for instance, we hit at the PLAYERS this year, I hit a few 3‑woods that were going over 300yards because the conditions were right.  If we get the same conditions where it drys out and you start running with the slopes getting the ball to go 300yards plus and with 3‑woods, that's ample far to get to the spots you need to get to.  As I said you are playing to spots.  There are a few times, yeah, you want to be aggressive, you want to get it down there and be able to take a run at a ‑‑ well, there's only one par‑5 you can basically reach, that being 2.  But there is a few holes that you can be aggressive and get it done there.  They give you some wider areas to drive it.  If you miss those spots, you will be paying the price.