US Open: Tiger Woods, Ever the Grinder, Hangs in with Pebble

Posted by on June 15, 2019  /   Posted in golf reviews

PEBBLE BEACH, California – When people talk about the greatness of Tiger Woods, they usually talk about tournaments like the 2000 United States Open on Pebble Beach, where he brought together a victory, as iconic as the cypress tree in the landing area of ​​the 18th hole. His performance in that week has become one of the indelible moments in his remarkable career.

Referring to that performance on Tuesday, Woods said he hadn't missed a putt within 10 feet and that he beat everything beautifully

"I don't know how I finished it," Woods added .

His 15-stroke margin of victory in 2000, the largest in the history of majors, is in the pantheon of virtuoso sports performance, as sublime as the perfect play of Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series or the 61 points from Elgin Baylor in Game 5 of the NBA of 1962 finals.

But Woods & Greatness can also be measured by how he performs when his irons feel like dull knives in his hands, as they did on Thursday when he struck zigzag shots, found only half of the greens in regulation and somehow managed to place one of the 39 mating rounds below par.

Woods & # 39; s one-under-par 70 in the first round was golf as pure grit. He took 11 holes, including the par-5 14th, where he parried in a mating of 31 feet. His magic to turn potential bogeys (or worse) into pars with his short game is central to his success.

In a US Open, where pars is particularly expensive, avoiding large numbers is often a healthier strategy than going low. In the second round on Friday, Woods started in the last nine – the more difficult side of the track – and played it in a bogey-free. He struggled on, disturbed problems, but swinging little momentum his way.

But he faltered at the end on Friday, finishing bogey-bogey for a one-more than 72 who sent him on par for the tournament on the weekend. Woods & # 39; s play on his last hole on Friday, No. 9, embodied the kind of problems he kept finding, although he couldn't save his parish this time.

His urge landed in a fairway and, after consulting with his caddy, Joe LaCava, Woods opted to lay. The second shot found the left to be rough and from there he took a soft shot on the green. It rolled 6 feet past the hole, leaving him with a 6-foot downhill par-putt, which he missed.

Woods certainly did not play his way out of the tournament, but he will have token considerable magic on the weekend if he has to compete for his 16th main title. It could still end up as 2000 again – that is, the 2000 P.G.A. Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.

That major is remembered for a 6-foot downhill putt that Woods dried to force extra holes with Bob May, and for the 25-foot birdie putt, he ran the hole while pointing to the cup. That birdie started the play-off with three holes that Woods gave the title.

Buried in the hope of superlatives that produced his victory was the fact that he was left early in the final round with two strokes, but deeply digs and played the last 12 regulation holes in seven to tie down in May.

About his first 36 holes at Pebble this week, Woods showed that he has the pieces to complete another title, if not a masterpiece.

He didn't putt as well on Friday as in the first round, mainly because his approach continued to land above the gap, which made for more difficult attempts. But his rides were so strong that he would stoop to pick up his tee without bothering to follow the flight of the ball.

In his prime, Woods was not only the best overall player, he was the most mentally demanding. In his youth, when his game was sharp, that combination enabled him to destroy some of the best players in the world. Now the mental resilience has allowed him to win the Masters at 43 and to deal with, if not subject to, another Open at Pebble Beach.

After drawing his scorecard on Thursday, Woods answered nine questions and referred six times to "hold", "hang there" or "hang around". His answers underlined his pride that he was the biggest bloke.

In 2000, the Danish star Thomas Bjorn said about Woods: "He hits every shot as if his life depends on it." compete. His desire for competition explains how after 79 victories, including 14 majors, he was still hungry enough to make a comeback that culminated in the Tour Championship title in September and a fifth Masters title in April.

His mental strength is visible in his results. But exactly how Woods' spirit works is a mystery. Grinding comes as a second nature to Woods, he cannot explain it.

"It's just fighting out and grinding," he said.

The stages of grit, according to for Woods, are negotiation and acceptance. Woods said he was trying to hit the right places and if he didn't, "I took my medicine and went on and went over my case."

Sometimes the winner of a major is the player who delivers top performance. That was certainly the case with this tournament in 2000. More typically, where the will is, there is the win. That is why Woods cannot be counted.

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