Count Tiger Woods in for Shinnecock Hills. The three-time U.S. Open champion filed an entry on Thursday to play in the national championship this June at the Southampton club where he made his U.S. Open debut 23 years ago.
Woods is coming back from spinal fusion surgery and coming off several competitive finishes in PGA Tour events. He finished 1 over, tied for 32nd at the Masters this past Sunday. He missed the past two U.S. Opens because of his back problems but still is exempt for having won the event in 2008.
“The U.S. Open is the ultimate test in all of golf,” he said in a video released by the U.S. Golf Association. “Par is a value. That, to me, is a lost art. Going in, if you know you shoot something under par you’re going to give yourself a chance. We know that going in. But still, how do you get prepared to get punched in the face?”
As the 19-year-old U.S. Amateur champion, he played in the 1995 Open at Shinnecock with U.S. Open champion Ernie Els and British Open champion Nick Price but withdrew during the second round after having injured his wrist while trying to hit out of the course’s signature fescue. He returned in 2004 and tied for 17th in the tournament won by Retief Goosen on controversially dry greens.
“I know it’s a great test. I know they’ve added some length to it to make it more modern. But it’s really dependent on weather. If wind blows there, then the winning score is over par,” he said. “When Goose won there, my God, the putts he made on those greens, they were just ungodly fast. The wind was blowing the ball over the greens. We hit putts from anywhere from 8 to 10 feet on in and the wind was moving them.”
He said at Augusta Sunday that he will take some time off, “Get back in the gym, start working on my body again, get it in good shape.”
The second of his three U.S. Open titles came on Long Island, in 2002 at Bethpage Black.