Monday, June 8, 2009
Tigers practices at U.S. Open course
ESPN.com news services
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- Tiger Woods was back on the Black Course at Bethpage, playing a practice round in preparation for his U.S. Open title defense.
Woods made a detour on his way home from winning the Memorial in Ohio, playing 18 holes Monday with swing coach Hank Haney on the course where he won the U.S. Open in 2002, the last time it was held at Bethpage Black. This year's Open is June 18-21.
Newsday reported that several dozen golfers who planned to play at Bethpage State Park's four other courses spied the world's No. 1 player and immediately pulled out cell-phone cameras.
Woods planned to return home to Florida later Monday and practice on his home course.
He won last year's Open at Torrey Pines in a 19-hole playoff against Rocco Mediate.
The Black Course has been lengthened to 7,426 yards since 2002. It features graduated rough that should allow players to reach the green instead of hacking out to the fairway.
Haney arrived at Muirfield Village Golf Club, site of the Memorial, on Sunday to observe his famous client win his 67th PGA Tour event, and then accompanied him to Bethpage.
When Woods won the U.S. Open in '02, he became the first player since Jack Nicklaus in 1972 to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year. It was also his seventh major out of 11.
Later that year, Woods parted ways with his longtime instructor Butch Harmon, but didn't win another major until the 2005 Masters. By that time, he had been working with Haney for about a year.
His victory Sunday was his second of the year and 67th of his PGA Tour career.
"It was nice to play this well going into the U.S. Open,'' Woods said Sunday. "This is how you have to hit it in order to win U.S. Opens. Especially Bethpage. That golf course is as big as they come. ... It's just one of those things where you have to hit the ball well all week. I did that in 2002. That was one of the reasons why I was up there."
Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig was used in this report.