Southampton, N.Y. • A year ago, while watching the U.S. Open on television as he recovered from another back surgery, Tiger Woods had no idea if he’d ever compete again in what he calls “our national championship.”
On Tuesday, he spoke about playing Shinnecock Hills as an opportunity to add to his three U.S. Open titles, but also as filling a hole in his existence after skipping the last two. This is his 20th U.S. Open.
“I missed playing the U.S. Open,” Woods said. “It’s our national title and it has meant so much to me in my career. The biggest event you can win when I was growing up, it was a USGA event. To have won nine times is pretty special.”
Woods was including his three U.S. Amateur victories and three in the U.S. Junior Amateur in the 1990s.
Woods has been stuck on 14 majors for a decade, his epic victory in the 2008 U.S. Open being his last. In the interim, of course, health issues — he wondered last year if he’d get healthy enough to play with his kids again — and off-the-course problems have stymied his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 majors.
So is Woods surprised he hasn’t gotten to No. 15 yet?
“I’d been there on a number of occasions to win the 15th and haven’t done it,” he said. “I don’t like that feeling. I’ve certainly had a nice run and won a few, and unfortunately in the last 10 years I haven’t.”