U.S. Open 2020: Tiger Woods’ major championship history at Winged Foot
This week marks the 22nd U.S. Open of Tiger Woods’ illustrious career. He has a fantastic record at this major championship, with three wins (2000, 2002 and 2008), five top-6 finishes and only three missed cuts (2006, 2015 and 2018).
So what does that mean for Woods’ chances of claiming his 16th major championship this week? Only time will tell, as Tiger’s history at Winged Foot is mixed.
Woods has played two majors at the Northeastern brute: the 1997 PGA Championship and the 2006 U.S. Open. Back in 1997, Woods’ first full year as a professional, he finished T29 at the PGA, firing rounds of 70-70-71-75 — not too shabby, though he was 17 shots behind winner Davis Love III.
But when the championship was played at the Northeastern brute under U.S. Open conditions back in 2006, it was a different story, and it just so happens to have been one of the few years when Woods missed the cut. At the time, it was Woods’ first missed cut ever at the U.S. Open, and expectations for his performance were sky-high. In his previous five major appearances leading up to the U.S. Open, Woods won twice (the 2005 Masters and British Open) and finished second (2005 U.S. Open), T4 (2005 PGA Championship) and T3 (2006 Masters).
What happened at Winged Foot? For starters, the course was playing incredibly tough that year, with every single player finishing over par for the first time in the U.S. Open since 1978. The tournament has since been known as “The Massacre at Winged Foot.”
Woods fired consecutive rounds of 76 on Thursday and Friday for a total of 12-over par, which missed the cut by three shots.
There were a number of factors that affected Woods’ performance that week, the most important of which was the recent death of his father, Earl, who passed away just weeks before, on May 3, 2006, at age 74. Woods had taken nine weeks off after the Masters to be with his ailing father. The 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot was his first competitive tournament back.
Woods admitted in his pre-tournament press conference that golf was far from his mind during the break, and he went well over a month without even touching a club.
Woods got off to a bad start in the first round and struggled to recover, a fact he acknowledged afterward.
“Starting out, yeah, definitely, the first three holes right there. I cost myself three shots,” he said. “Just got off to a bad start earlier with the wind blowing as hard as it was, and it was going to be hard to make up shots, and I didn’t; I lost ground.”
Things didn’t turn around during the second round on Friday, and Woods addressed the media again after missing the first major championship cut of his professional career.
“I struggled all week with getting the speed of these [greens] because they were slower,” Woods said. “The mindset of a U.S. Open is really slick greens, and these aren’t. I struggled all week trying to hit the putts hard enough, and then yesterday it bit me right at the start. Once I adjusted, as I said yesterday, it was too late. Then today they were nice; they were a little bit faster but still on the slow side. Uphill putts are really slow, and downhill putts just don’t quite run out. You have to make the adjustment, and I didn’t do that.”
Though Woods was disappointed to make an early exit from Winged Foot, he bounced back quickly, going on an incredible major championship run: wins at the 2006 British Open and PGA Championship, T2 at the 2007 Masters and U.S. Open, T12 at the 2007 British, a win at the 2007 PGA Championship, second at the 2008 Masters, and another win at the unforgettable 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
What’s in store for Woods this year? He and Justin Thomas gathered some intel on the course during a visit back in August. Is he ready to make a run at major No. 16 this week? Time will tell.