So, we’re at Shinnecock Hills for the US Open. We arrived at the weekend and we’ve played the course a few times already. I’ll also be playing another practice round this Tuesday with Branden, Charl and Louis. That’ll be fun!
I must say it’s a thrill for me to be here and I’m grateful to the USGA for granting me this special exemption. Obviously, the US Open means a lot to me. This is kind of where it all started, you might say. Winning at Oakmont at the age of 24, as I’ve said before it was almost like a shock the way that happened. I still thought I had some steps to climb to get there. Then in ’97 winning for the second time. That was just a very, very special week, winning in the nation’s capital, and that set me up for a really great year. For me there are so many wonderful memories from this historic championship and it’s exciting to be able to keep that story going and tee it up in my 26th US Open.
And Shinnecock…well, like a lot of the guys here this week, I put this right up there among my top 2 or 3 courses in the US. It’s a magnificent layout, a big, beautiful, natural golf course. It’s got kind of a links-style feel about it and it tests every department of your game, perfect for the US Open. And the set-up this week is just incredible; it’s in really great shape. Obviously it’s tough. We all know that! This is the US Open.
Thing is, throughout my career I always liked tough golf courses; you know, when par would be a good score, so there was a run of a number of years where I’d come into the US Open with a lot of confidence. Maybe the form and the results haven’t been quite there in recent years, but the US Open is still a tournament where I feel like I can have a strong run. We’ve just got to get off to a nice steady start, feel our way in, stay patient and take it from there. You never know with this game and one thing’s for sure, I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’s always one of my favourite weeks of the year.
Anyway, we start in the company of Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk, a really nice group for me, teeing off at 1.36pm on Thursday and 7.51am on Friday.
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