SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Tiger Woods brought his yacht, Privacy, to a U.S. Open in New York and missed the cut for the first time in a major.
That was 12 years ago when the Open was at Winged Foot.
He can only hope for a different outcome at Shinnecock Hills.
“Staying on the dinghy helps,” Woods said with a grin.
The 155-foot yacht is said to include a Jacuzzi, gym and movie theater. It doesn’t sound as though Woods has spent much time ashore except for being at Shinnecock Hills for his first U.S. Open in three years.
“Sag Harbor is a cute little town,” he said. “I’ve only been there for a few days now. I haven’t really got a chance to walk about a little bit, but certainly will this week. So far, it’s been nice to kind of get away from the tournament scene and go there to my dinghy, and just really enjoy it.”
Woods at least has been able to avoid the traffic that has led to commutes of close to two hours from the official hotel depending on the time of morning. Most players have rented homes in the Southampton area.
Woods said he stayed with Shinnecock Hills members when he played as an amateur in the 1995 U.S. Open, and near the course in 2004.
The Hamptons has no shortage of yachts, and someone suggested to Woods that it must feel odd not to have the biggest ship in New York.
“I’m not opposed to that,” Woods said.
Jordan Spieth now knows that when he’s tied for the lead after 72 holes on Sunday, his work is not done.
The USGA has changed its playoff format for all its open championships. If the U.S. Open goes to a playoff, it will be a two-hole aggregate playoff (followed by sudden death if still tied), instead of an 18-hole playoff.
Spieth was asked about the two-hole playoff.
“It’s the first I’ve heard of that being an option,” he said. “It’s still 18 holes, right?”
“I guess the strategy changes a little from an entire round, but I honestly had no idea that it even changed,” he said. “I was even looking at a weather forecast for Monday, thinking, ‘What’s it look like if you happen to work your way into a playoff?’ So shows you what I know.”
He wasn’t alone.
Justin Thomas was asked about the new format and conceded that he wasn’t aware it changed to a two-hole aggregate until he was at lunch. It wasn’t clear if he read a memo from the USGA or the transcript of Spieth’s news conference about four hours earlier.
BACK TO NO. 2
If you blinked, you might have missed Justin Thomas’ reign atop golf’s world ranking.
The PGA champion took the top spot in May. It’s gone, with Dustin Johnson’s win at Memphis last weekend catapulting him to No. 1, with Thomas just behind.
Of course, a win at Shinnecock Hills in the U.S. Open this week would push Thomas back to the top.
“It didn’t affect me, or it wasn’t that hard on me because I couldn’t do anything about it,” Thomas said. “I wasn’t playing. I played one tournament and had a good tournament, finished eighth. And D.J. won, so it’s not like he didn’t play well and didn’t earn it or anything. He won a golf tournament and a great tournament. So there’s nothing I can be upset about for that.”
Thomas could even laugh a bit about the ranking.
“I saw something that was just hysterical on social media,” he explained, “how a lot of the times, you know, when teams or players or whatever it is go on long runs, like the last time this happened. I mean, a little biased but often a scenario is last time Tennessee beat Alabama in football, you know, like iPhones weren’t alive yet and stuff like that.”
So what was Thomas’ “last time” moment?
“I saw something so funny yesterday,” he said. “It was like the last time that I wasn’t ranked No. 1 in the world, and it was like (Alex) Ovechkin didn’t have a Stanley Cup and Rickie (Fowler) wasn’t engaged. That was it. I thought it was pretty funny, whoever came up with that.”
SPIETH AND HIS PUTTER
For all the attention on the short putts Jordan Spieth has missed this year, he still is regarded as one of the best putters in golf. That’s the club that effectively won the British Open for him last summer.
Spieth faced a tough question Tuesday, however, when asked if there was someone he regarded as better.
“A lot of great putters out here,” he said, buying time.
“That’s why they’re out here,” he said, buying even more time.
He finally took the safe way out by saying that no single players come to mind, though he made it clear his confidence isn’t shaken on the greens.
“I’d still like to bet on myself, if I can,” he said.
Spieth said he prefers to think about who makes putts in big moments, and whether the ball is holed with the right speed and right break. He has made plenty of those, not only at Royal Birkdale last summer but at Chambers Bay on the par-3 16th and even at the Tour Championship in 2015 when he won the FedEx Cup.
And he hasn’t forgotten Tiger Woods.
“Nobody’s done that better in the last 20 years than Tiger as far as clutch putting goes,” he said.
Jason Day has learned that life in a motor home can be rewarding on the PGA Tour. He also has learned it can be messy when Bubba Watson is around.
Day is staying in what he calls “the bus” in a parking area close to Shinnecock Hills for the U.S. Open. The Australian uses the RV for about 15 tournaments a season, and several other tour golfers have joined him.
One is Watson.
“Bubba just got one this year, and I’m very kind of more private, and he’s, yeah, he’s a little bit more outgoing,” Day recalled, a wide smile on his face. “And I think we’re at Augusta, and he walks under my bus, and he’s like, ‘Hey, man, what are you doing?’
“I’m just sitting in the bus watching TV. He’s like OK. And he’s standing there. And I’m like, do you want to come inside? And he’s eating a burrito, and he decides to come in and talk to me for about 30 minutes. He gets his burrito all over the ground and then just leaves.
“Actually, it’s nice to have people like that around, you know, to mess your bus up when you need them to.”