This week, the US Open returns to Los Angeles for the first time in 75 years, but the event is largely California-themed. Many of the tournament’s top contenders grew up in the neighborhood. A dozen or so in the field grew up in California or call it home.
As such, it seems almost wrong or even cruel to not have one of the greatest golfers in California history. Tiger Woods, who grew up in Cypress, Calif., about 30 miles away from this year’s U.S. Golf Championships, underwent surgery on his ankle in April, keeping him out of the Los Angeles Country Club. Since a tragic car accident in 2021 that nearly amputated his leg has severely hampered his ability to play and walk on the golf course since then, Woods’ absence or withdrawal from a major has been a major concern. 9th time.
Naturally, you can still feel Woods’ presence during his absence. especially here. Especially at the US Open, where Woods usually won three times in dramatic and memorable fashion.
But California native Max Houma, who is ranked No. 7 in the world, said Tuesday morning as he practiced chipping. But I certainly think it’s strange that he’s not here. If you look at the history of the game, it makes sense. “
Colin Morikawa, who was born in Los Angeles two months before Woods won his first major in 1997 and then won the PGA Championship and the British Open, said Woods’ influence on golf was enormous, and he is one of today’s greatest golfers. He said he wondered how many players there would be. Without him, he would still be playing this week.
“He’s probably not the only reason we’re in the game,” Morikawa said of Woods, adding. “But growing up, he was the only person I cared about.”
Morikawa continued with a smile, saying that he enjoyed getting to know major champions in recent years such as Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
“But when I grew up, I didn’t care about them. I really didn’t care,” Morikawa said. “People ask me how Rory won this and how that guy won.
“So yeah, I think he’s always been lonely. But he’s always going to affect this game in ways we can’t even explain, ways we don’t even know.”
His 15 major wins are second only to Jack Nicklaus’ 18, but he wants to save some of his most memorable performances for the U.S. Open in his home state.
In 2000, at Pebble Beach Golf Links, he set the tournament record for the largest winning margin by winning by a staggering 15 strokes. Eight years later, at San Diego’s Torrey Pines Golf Course, Woods, who had been out of action for two months with two stress fractures and a torn ACL in his left foot, was forced to return to Rocco after four grueling practices. He succeeded in taking first place alongside Mediate. Round
In the playoffs the next day, Woods went through 19 more grueling holes to clinch the championship.
Those were Woods’ U.S. Open highlights, but he also has six other top-10 finishes. However, the last decade largely reflected Woods’ declining physical health. The 47-year-old last played at the U.S. Open in 2020, when he missed out. In the past nine U.S. Opens, he has appeared on the field just five times. He missed qualifying twice, but his best result was a tie for 21st.
Since his emotional victory at the 2019 Masters, Woods has only completed four rounds at a major championship four times. It reminds me of Woods’ sad comment on the eve of this year’s Masters. “I don’t know how many more are left.”
In that regard, his absence from this week’s US Open is yet another reminder that Woods has been forced to relinquish the spotlight he has helmed for more than 25 years.
But his big followers won’t let him be forgotten.
“His presence in the world of golf will always be known because he affects the game in ways some of us could only dream of,” Morikawa said. “It’s important for him to be healthy at this point. Who knows when we’ll see him or not. I don’t think any of us take it for granted anymore.”
Late Tuesday morning, while practicing against the backdrop of the Los Angeles skyline, Homa was asked if California golfers were proud that Woods was one of them.
“Maybe it’s deeper,” Homa replied. “I take pride in the fact that some of the greatest golfers of all time grew up playing on average municipal golf courses.
“I don’t know if it’s California stuff, but I think it’s just cool.”