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Tiger Woods in need of some magic at U.S. Open

By now, Tiger Woods ought to have had an opportunity to defend his Masters title. By now, there ought to be a solution for his rabid followers about simply how a lot time they need to commit to cheering him on in the U.S. Open.

But in a 12 months the place solutions are onerous to come back from anyplace, there isn’t a easy one about his probabilities of profitable a fourth U.S. Open.

It’s so sophisticated that even Woods appears to be having issues figuring it out.

“This year I really haven’t putted as well as I wanted to, and the times I did make a few swing mistakes, I missed it in the wrong spots,” Woods stated Tuesday. “Consequently, I just didn’t have the right looks at it. I’ve compounded mistakes here and there that ended up not making me able to make pars or a birdie run, and consequently I haven’t put myself in contention to win events.”

Don’t really feel dangerous if that appeared tough to comply with. With Woods, we’ve been guessing at issues for years.

Is his again OK? Is he rusty from not enjoying sufficient? How concerning the putter?

And add this one into the combination for this match: At the age of 44, will he have the ability to match gamers 20 years youthful in the case of hacking out of the tough and steadying himself on the 6-footers for par?

We’ll know quickly sufficient, with Woods teeing off early Thursday at Winged Foot in a pairing that features two gamers who, not like Woods, have much more skilled golf in their future than they do in their previous. One of them, newly topped PGA champion Collin Morikawa, wasn’t even born when Woods gained his first PGA Tour occasion in 1996, whereas Justin Thomas, till final month, was formally the very best participant in golf.

Oddsmakers don’t precisely fancy his probabilities, making Woods a 35-1 shot to edge nearer to the largest file he doesn’t maintain in golf — the 18 majors gained by Jack Nicklaus. Woods himself doesn’t sound terribly assured, even when he’s not fairly prepared but to take his place as an elder statesman of golf.

“I think it gets harder to win as we all age,” he stated.

Compounding the problem for Woods this week isn’t essentially the size of Winged Foot, which stretches practically 7,500 yards with a par of 70. He’s loads lengthy to nonetheless be aggressive with gamers like Thomas and Morikawa, even when they’ll possible be outdriving him in the opening rounds.

It’s what occurs when he can’t discover the green and must scramble that would be the hardest half. By all accounts, the tough at Winged Foot is brutal, which suggests Woods will need to beat errors off the tee with the type of brief sport that has gained him 15 majors.

Unfortunately, the putts beneath 10 toes that was once computerized for Woods are computerized not. It doesn’t assist that he missed the FedEx Cup Playoffs and hasn’t performed competitively in three weeks.

There’s additionally the truth that in six rounds in two main championships at Winged Foot, Woods is a mixed 18-over-par. That consists of the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, the place Woods shot 76-76 and missed the lower.

Still, as his magical win at the Masters final 12 months reminded everybody, it will be a mistake to promote him brief.

“When I won the Masters last year I was not feeling particularly well prior to that,” Woods stated. “My neck was bothering me. I didn’t play in Bay Hill. For some reason I felt physically better and my training sessions felt good. I changed shafts in my driver right before the event, and I was able to start turning the ball over. Then all of a sudden I put myself in contention and I wasn’t really — I wasn’t leading but I was near the lead, and each day I progressively got a little bit better, and come Sunday, I put all the pieces together.”

Could that occur once more at Winged Foot, a course that doesn’t have the huge fairways of Augusta National and is lined with deep tough? A course that Woods doesn’t know practically as properly and hasn’t had earlier success?

Woods isn’t making predictions, and anybody else is solely guessing. Things are inclined to occur in golf that may’t be predicted, as evidenced by Morikawa’s win at the PGA Championship final month in his first main as an expert.

One factor is evident: Time is working out on Woods if he’s so as to add 4 extra main titles to interrupt the file he needs probably the most. And snagging one throughout a pandemic can be an ideal springboard heading into the Masters in November, the place he would be the defending champion.

Meanwhile, don’t overlook: He is Tiger Woods.

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