DUBLIN, Ohio – Tiger Woods made a scouting trip to Chambers Bay before arriving at the Memorial Tournament. He’s won five times at Muirfield Village. Chambers Bay, the site of the upcoming U.S. Open, isn’t quite as familiar for him.
That’s why it took 3½ hours for Woods to play his first nine holes at Chambers Bay. After a lunch break, he spent another 3½ hours on the back nine. There’s a lot to learn about the 8-year-old course outside Seattle.
“There are so many different numbers that you have to know off the tees and how that’s going to play. There’s just so many options,” Woods said. “Generally, you look at old-school U.S. Opens, it’s narrow fairways, high rough, miss it, hack out and try and make a par from the fairway.
“At Chambers, there’s so many different landing areas and aggressive or passive lines.”
Woods is a three-time U.S. Open champion, with his most recent victory coming in 2008. He missed last year’s U.S. Open after back surgery. He finished 32nd in his last U.S. Open appearance, in 2013.
Players will have to decide how much risk they want to take off the tees at this year’s U.S. Open. And some approach shots will have to be aimed away from the hole – sometimes as far as 30 yards away, Woods said – to get the ball close to the target.
“We don’t even see this in British Opens because they’re not banked like this,” Woods said. “We spent a lot of time there, (did) a lot of homework, … a lot of getting numbers, getting a feel for how we’re going to play it because there’s so many different options.”
Chambers Bay’s long tees also mean that USGA executive director Mike Davis, who is in charge of the U.S. Open’s setup, can change holes’ yardages vastly from day to day. The first and 18th holes will alternate between playing as par-4s and par-5s, the first time holes will change par during a U.S. Open.
When Woods was asked how he liked the course, he replied, “Depends how it’s set up. It can be played so many different ways. If you tip it out, it’s over 7,900 (yards). So what combinations are Mike going to present us? … He could make it just brutal or he can make it to where it’s pretty easy.”
Woods played on both Monday and Tuesday before flying to Ohio, where he played in the Memorial’s Wednesday pro-am. He is making his first start since finishing tied for 69th at THE PLAYERS Championship.
“I feel very good, very good about the changes we’ve made,” Woods said. “And we’ve just implemented a couple new things. But it’s still evolving, but it’s getting better.”