Tiger Woods' week at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock continued Tuesday with his press conference, which wasn't short on interesting quotes and tidbits from the three-time U.S. Open champion.
This will be the first U.S. Open Tiger has played since 2015 when he missed the cut at Chambers Bay. He's won the event three times (2000, 2002, 2008) and finished in the top 10 five other times. Tiger was T32 at the Masters in April and is on track to play in all four majors for the first time since 2015.
It's always news when Tiger goes behind the mic. Here are seven of his most interesting lines from the jam-packed interview room on Thursday (you can read the complete transcript here and watch the video at the bottom of this story).
1. Tiger on his commute to Shinnecock: "Yeah, staying on the dinghy helps."
Tiger was asked if there are any advantages to staying on his yacht, which is anchored near Sag Harbor, during the U.S. Open at Shinnecock, given that numerous golfers have traffic horror stories about their drive to the course. Tiger's "dinghy" is a $20 million pleasure cruiser dubbed "Privacy."
His response drew laughter from the assembled media. On a serious note, Tiger said it's conceivable that a golfer could miss his tee time this week because of traffic or a fender bender after some golfers said this week that their commute was up to three hours long from their hotel.
2. Tiger on Phil Mickelson: "Of all the events, you would think that this would be the one that he would have, you know, the least chance to win because of the way he's driven it for most of his career."
Mickelson has finished as the runner-up at the U.S. Open six times as he chases an elusive career grand slam. Lefty ranks 131st on the PGA Tour in shots gained off the tee. His driving accuracy of 51.55 percent is outside of the top 200 on the Tour.
While Mickelson has the best putting average on the PGA Tour, his driving accuracy and distance may keep him from winning the U.S. Open.
3. Tiger on the U.S. Open: "A U.S. Open is about wedging it. It really is."
Tiger's statement was in reference to Mickelson's short game, which he said "is off the charts." Tiger said you have to be able to get up and down from 100 yards in order to have success at the U.S. Open.
4. Tiger on how he spent his U.S. Open week last year: "I watched as much golf as I possibly could last year."
Tiger said Erin Hills wasn't a traditional U.S. Open site and he said players told him the course opened up after the rough was cut after the practice rounds last year. He gave credit to Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas, individually, for their performances.
5. Tiger on golf: "Golf is always frustrating. There's always something that isn't quite right, and that's where we, as players, have to make adjustments."
Man, it feels great to hear Tiger say that, right? Any golfer, regardless of experience or skill level, has been frustrated by the sport at one time or another, so there's some comfort in hearing the 14-time major winner express that sentiment.
6. Tiger on contending for a tournament: "I was right there with a chance. Honestly, I felt very calm. I've been there so many times throughout my career that it was – it felt very familiar."
Tiger was asked about Jack Nicklaus' assertion that in order for Tiger to win again, he has to get used to contending for a tournament late into the weekend. He finished tied for second at the Valspar Championship in March, finishing at 9-under, one stroke behind winner Paul Casey. It was his best finish of the year and his best finish since being the runner-up at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge in 2013.
7. Tiger on his journey in the last year: "I had no expectation of getting this far. A lot of this is pure bonus because of where I was. To be able to have this opportunity to play USGA events, to play against these guys, best players in the world, it's just a great feeling and one that I don't take for granted."
A year ago, Tiger had just been cleared to walk again. He was unable to lift and his focus was "just having my standard of life." Each small step brought him closer to playing in this year's U.S. Open, as he was cleared to putt, then chip and make a full return to golf.
Here's the complete press conference:
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