Tiger Woods targets a 16th major when the US Open gets under way on Thursday, and his close friend Rob McNamara spoke to GOLFTV about the American’s preparations.
Two months on from his remarkable Masters victory, Woods is aiming for glorying in the US Open at Pebble Beach – the scene of his 15-shot major win back in 2000.
Woods was 24 back then, but now the 43-year-old is looking to become the oldest player to win multiple majors in one season, with Mark O’Meara 41 when doing so in 41.
McNamara knows Woods better than most, and he discussed the Pebble Beach course and his practices with Woods when talking to GOLFTV.
On his scouting trip to Pebble with Tiger two weeks ago, McNamara said: “We’re there to see the course and see the changes. He knows this place obviously really well, but they do set it up different for an Open versus a regular event.
“We were there mostly to look at that. The main difference is that he’s not going to an hour-and-a-half warmup. We didn’t even warm up.
“We just walked to the first tee, took some swings, got one mulligan each and that was it. We were off and running at 6:30 in the morning.
“Tiger and I always have a bet in these pre-warmups and my number was 81 from the same tees as him. I shot 82 and missed it by one. I had about three three-putts, and it was all of those downhill ones that I ran a few feet by.
“Including one three feet for birdie that Tiger didn’t give me on No. 15, which I ran it 10 feet by then missed the comebacker. You got to hole them all out even in the practice round.”
On the course’s changes, McNamara added: “Here for the U.S. Open, the fairway lines have changed. Typically for the AT&T Pro-Am, the fairway would end on the outside of the bunkers, but now for the U.S. Open, the fairways end on the inside of the bunkers.
“So you can hit one right at a bunker, and if you’re a little short of it at the AT&T, you would be in the fairway no problem. But this week, you’re in the rough by a good 10-15 yards.
“We’re mostly checking out those lines. No. 11 was the one that surprised us the most because they moved it very significantly left and forced you to go a lot more left than they even had in the past U.S.Opens.
“Ultimately, it will be how dry it will really get. These greens don’t sometimes look as dangerous as Augusta’s greens or Winged Foot’s greens, where you see these huge undulations and know Ihave to just tap this down the hill. Pebble’s are subtle.
“Even today, we did nine holes and a few of the guys hit it 10 feet by. And they aren’t at full tournament speed yet. It’s deceiving. You kind of have to know your way around Pebble. The rule of thumb here is that you have to be below the hole. They say that a lot in tournament golf, but here in particular it’s paramount.”