Well, that happened.
Just when Tiger Woods was playing so well, he stumbled to his worst finish since 2010 in the Memorial Tournament, the Jack Nicklaus event he has won five times. Not exactly the kind of performance he was hoping for heading into the U.S. Open, which begins June 13. He had three triple-bogeys in the Memorial, finishing in a tie for 65th — 20 strokes back of winner Matt Kuchar. Just what was the problem for Woods?
“I didn’t putt very well,” he said. “I had bad speed all week. I thought the greens didn’t look that fast, but they were putting fast. I could never get the speed of them.”
There’s little Woods can do but try to put the performance behind him and “go home … and practice.” He admitted that he has a full list of things to work on.
“Everything,” he said. “You want everything clicking on all cylinders, especially at the U.S. Open, because everything is tested in the U.S. Open.”
Particularly in this Open, which will take place at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. It’s a tight course that abuts public roads, homes, a college and a rail line. When trains aren’t announcing their presence with a federally-mandated blast of an air horn, the bells at St. George’s Episcopal Church, about 150 years from the sixth green, will toll every half-hour. The course, which is about half the size of those more typically used for the Open, will test golfers’ concentration worse than the “get in the hole” guy.
“It was a challenge to even think about bringing the U.S. Open to Merion,” Reg Jones, the U.S. Golf Association’s senior director of the Open, told the New York Times. “People said time had passed Merion by. But we thought it was more than worth it to try. It wasn’t going to be easy and it was going to take some out-of-the-box thinking, but we wanted to see if it could be done.”
Oddsmakers still favor Woods, who will try to win his 15th major. The Open just happens to end on June 16, the five-year anniversary of his last major championship.