Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson return from Shinnecock noting 'significant' changes

Getty Images

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson return from Shinnecock noting 'significant' changes

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson return from Shinnecock noting 'significant' changes

DUBLIN, Ohio – Before heading to Muirfield Village for this week’s Memorial Tournament, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson each made early-week U.S. Open scouting trips to Shinnecock Hills.

Woods spent Monday and Tuesday at this year’s U.S. Open venue in Southampton, N.Y., playing 18 holes each day. Shinnecock head professional, Jack Druga, joined Woods.

It was Woods’ first trip to Shinnecock since he tied for 17th at the 2004 U.S. Open, where he shot 72-69-73-76. (Woods also played the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock, as an amateur, but withdrew after a first-round 74 because of a wrist injury.)

Woods said the course was significantly different than it was 14 years ago. The par-70 Shinnecock will tip out at 7,445 yards for next month’s major championship, about 450 yards longer than 2004, when the course played at 6,996 yards.

“Unfortunately, it rained the day before I got there and the golf course played really long,” Woods said. “I’m sure it probably won’t play as long as we played it. 7,500 yards, par 70 is a long golf course. And they’ve made some pretty significant changes from since last time that I have seen it. I believe there’s over 500 trees that are gone since last time I played it. They added 500 yards to it. So it’s quite significant.”

Mickelson spent Tuesday at Shinnecock. He went around with assistant pro Matt Cahill and raved at the changes, particularly the widened fairways and shaved run-off areas around the greens.

“Phenomenal,” Mickelson said. “It’s really well done. They renovated it a little bit and some of the fairways are a little bit wider, certainly the rough is as penalizing or more so than I’ve seen it, but the fairways are fair and the greens are as healthy as I’ve seen them.”

Mickelson was one of two players to finish under par at the 2004 U.S. Open. He played 72 holes in 2 under, two shots worse than champion Retief Goosen. He was also T-4 in 1995.

He said the fairways are “very hittable,” and “halfway-decent drives” will find the fairway “100 percent of the time.” But wayward tee balls will be in trouble – as they should, he added.

“If you’re 2 yards off the fairway, the fescue was so high and thick it was well over my knee, and I had a hard time hitting it 2 yards back to the fairway,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson also believes short game will be a bigger factor this year than in recent U.S. Opens. (He missed last year’s championship at Erin Hills because of his daughter’s high-school graduation.)

“The reason why I’m really excited about this year’s Open is that skill around the greens is going to be a factor because they shaved it everywhere. A lot of times the greens when they’re firm, fast, you have this hack-it-out rough where you can’t control it. But here, the shots are difficult around the greens, but they are doable because it’s off the fairway.”

Mickelson is expected to play next week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis before teeing it up in the U.S. Open. Woods, on the other hand, will take a week off after Memorial before heading to Shinnecock.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home