PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Just as he did the last time the U.S. Open visited Pebble Beach, in 2000, Tiger Woods left us shaking our heads Thursday.
For different reasons, however.
Ten years ago it was for a scintillating performance, arguably the best play we’ve ever seen in a major golf championship. Thursday it was for post-round comments that made him sound like . . . well, let’s just say he’s handled things in a far more professional manner.
His assertion that the “greens are just awful” was a letdown. He should be above such criticism. Come on, it’s poa, the same stuff he has dominated in the past.
But if you’re going to complain, at least be somewhat accurate with your points. Woods was not Thursday. For instance, he said: “Look at the scores this afternoon and no one is posting a good round this afternoon.”
He really needs a mulligan on that one, because Shaun Micheel, Paul Casey and Brendon de Jonge each shot 69 to share the lead – and they all played in the afternoon.
In fact, of the 13 players who finished at 71 or better to be in the top 10, seven were afternoon guys.
Or, how about this one from Woods: “There’s no one making a lot of putts out there . . . “
Earth to Tiger, K.J. Choi and Mike Weir made six birdies each, while Micheel and Casey made five.
Or this quote: “This is a completely different design, complete re-do from when we played (last). The holes are much different.”
A colleague whispered to me: “Oh, yeah, that’s right, the ocean used to be on your right as you played 18 at Pebble.”
Certainly, his birdieless round of 3-over 74 stung, but let’s not get carried away. It’s the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, and give USGA officials credit for keeping it consistent to what we’ve seen in the four previous trips here for the national championship.
Whereas the low score Thursday was 69 and the field average 75.288, how would Woods have liked playing Round 1 in the first U.S. Open here in 1972? The field average was 78.0 and the low score 71. Or in 1982 when the field average was 77.3 and the low score 70?
Heck, in 2000 when Woods dominated and opened with a 65, the field average was still 75.008 – meaning it was virtually the same as this year.
Careless comments, for sure.