Tiger Woods will get in his final competitive preparation for the U.S. Open when he plays this week at the Memorial Tournament. But before arriving at Muirfield Village in Ohio, the 14-time major winner made a detour on Monday to visit this year’s Open venue, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.
Woods was in the field the last two years the USGA held the Open at Shinnecock Hills, but has a mixed history at the venerable Long Island course. In 1995, Woods was an amateur playing in his first U.S. Open only to be forced to withdraw from the championship after playing just five holes after injuring his left wrist while hitting shots out of the rough.
In 2004, Woods was a two-time Open winner but finished a disappointing T-17 after shooting a 10-over 290, 14 strokes back of eventual winner Retief Goosen.
That Woods would be playing the practice round this Memorial Day is a stark contrast to the circumstances he faced the same weekend one year earlier. It was May 29, 2017, when Woods was pulled over in the early morning hours by Florida police after being found asleep at the wheel of his Mercedes Benz with the engine running.
It was eventually determined that he had five drugs in his system, but no alcohol. He publicly apologized for the arrest, which came after undergoing his fourth back surgery earlier in the year and with his golf career in its own turmoil. He eventually pleaded guilty to reckless driving and received probation.
Since his arrest, Woods entered into a rehab program to better manage pain and sleep medication. It appears that the incident was the low point on his road to recovery, both on and off the golf course.
Woods has returned to play, competing in eight PGA Tour events, posting four top-15 finishes and missing just one cut. He has played just twice since competing at the Masters in April, with a T-55 showing at the Wells Fargo Championship and a T-11 in his most recent start, the Players Championship.
When he arrives at Shinnecock in June, it will be 10 years since his dramatic third U.S. Open victory at Torrey Pines, a playoff triumph over Rocco Mediate that was the last of his 14 major victories.