BY Art Thiel 06:45PM 06/16/2015

Thiel: Woods seeks mercy from Torture Chambers

Three-time U.S. Open winner Tiger Woods found many mysteries at Chambers Bay. He described them all at a press conference that sounded as if he were talking himself out of success.

Tiger Woods, practicing in front of the hospitality suites along the 18th fairway, said Chambers Bay is unlike any course that has held a major championship. / Jonathan Nesvig

UNIVERSITY PLACE — Carefully but unmistakably, Tiger Woods threw down with Mike Davis, U.S. Golf Association executive director and the Lord Voldemort of Torture Chambers Bay. At issue was the degree of cruelty that the sorcerer will apply to the settings of the U.S. Open Thursday.

In his pre-tourney press conference Tuesday, Woods cunningly played the potential innocent victim. Trying to use his bully pulpit to plead for leniency for himself and his 155 fellow golfers, he invoked Davis’s name at least four times, referring to his daily responsibility for pin placements, hole length, morning vs. afternoon and all the diabolical variables at Hogwarts by the Sea.

“You’re going to see some different things this week than you have (with) probably any other major championship that we play,” Woods said.  “It’s certainly different for a U.S. Open, that’s for sure.

“I think one of the more dramatic things I’ve noticed is how different it plays from morning to afternoon. It gets so much faster and drier . . . plus we’ve had two different winds. One has come out of the southwest, and one out of the northwest. It’s just amazing how much it plays differently, with the different winds.”

Woods stopped short of flat-out criticism, but it sounded as if he were Dorothy trying to describe the inside of a tornado to Auntie Em.

What was plain was that he was pleading to Davis through the media — which for any other player ranked 195th in the world would be audacious — to get him to go light.

“We don’t know — none of us, none of you guys in this room — what Mike is going to do on the set-up,” Woods said. “It’s hard to predict that. We don’t know what Mike is going to do on the different winds and the different days. So, yeah, we could say that the long hitters have an advantage, but maybe not. Depends on what Mike does.”

The almost-complaints drew an inquiry at the presser from none other than Robert Trent Jones Jr., the Chambers Bay architect and long-time Woods family friend who spontaneously assumed the role of reporter with a question about whether his golf baby provided top golfers enough play-making options.

“I think that it’s — what we don’t know, as I told you, none of us know what Mike is going to do and when he’s going to do it,” Woods said, sounding s little defensive. “What tees he’s going to move up, what tees he’s going to leave back, and to what pin locations are.

“But it’s unlike any other major championship I’ve ever had to prepare for, having to hit so many different tee shots. There’s three or four different tee shots on almost every hole. Mike has an opportunity to play basically 36 holes and 36 different options . . . I’m kind of happy that I’m playing actually in the afternoon the first day, get a chance to watch what some of the guys do in the morning to get a feel for it and see what’s going on.”

Good to hear Woods is happy about something. At 39 and absent a major title since 2008, he hasn’t had a lot of laughs lately, personally or professionally. Not only did he and his most public squeeze, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, split the sheets, he shot an 85 a week ago Saturday, the worst score of his career.

This season he’s had as many scores in the 80s as the 60s — two. It’s true that at the Masters, he rose as high as fifth place before fading Sunday to 17th, 13 strokes behind Jordan Spieth, 18 years his junior. But it was more flicker than flame.

Woods took pains to explain he is engaged in a long, slow remake of his swing, and “things are starting to come together, piece by piece,” he said. He didn’t explain what he was changing or why he felt the need, but it’s obvious to anyone familiar with human physiology — he’s compensating for age and injuries.

Woods’ litany of Chambers’ many mysteries, and tagging the man responsible for potentially adding to his personal misery, sounds to the cynical as if he were prepping for a letdown.

Especially after he dropped this one:

“I’m more curious to see how many guys hit sprinklers this week, because the sprinklers are literally sometimes six inches off the green.”

Wait until Woods finds out that the engineers operating the BNSF freight trains that rumble over the shoreline next to the course are big Phil Mickelson fans. Right in the middle of Woods’ backswing on No. 18, they are conspiring to lay on the horns.

It seems at this point, Woods is ready to believe anything about Torture Chambers Bay.


  • Jamo57

    Welcome to the Puget Sound Convergence Zone, Tiger……(heh, heh, heh)……..

    • art thiel

      I just wish it would rain hard once day, just to make it different.

  • Talkjoc

    Would you like some cheese with that Whine Tiger? I’m looking forward to seeing how the best golfers in the world take on a course that is not cookie-cut like the rest. Make some shots guys. Show your shot-making skills. I’d rather see one or two under par than 15 or 16. Can’t make shots? Then it’s “Avada Kedavra” from Torture Chambers Bay.

    • art thiel

      Clean mind makes for a clean game. No bitching.

  • jafabian

    For whatever reason Tiger isn’t comfortable going into the tourney. He’s choosing his words carefully when he talks about Chambers Bay and his expectations. His body language is poor. Not sure if it’s the course itself or his personal life. Lindsay Vonn’s thinly veiled comments on their breakup, in their own way, have been as stinging as his ex-wife’s golf swing. I’m leaning towards the challenges that Chambers Bay brings to the players. If you aren’t at the top of your game (Which Tiger hasn’t been at for awhile now) the course will punish you. I’m watching Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyana and Jordan Spieth for this. I think they’ll be atop the leaderboard.

    • art thiel

      Good forecasts.
      Woods is trying to talk himself into a good tourney, but it won’t happen, so he’s dissing the course for a ready-made excuse.

      • jafabian

        Tiger made an interesting observation that the course plays differently in the morning compared to the afternoon and I actually get what he’s saying. Makes me wonder if he and other golfers has different times during the week.

        • rosetta_stoned

          Those who tee off in the morning on Thursday go off in the afternoon on Friday. And vice-versa.

      • poulsbogary

        You nailed it. Note when his tee time is. Tiger has to face it some day. Blondes have been his downfall.

        • art thiel

          That’s a plus-one for you.

  • Cheryl Marks

    So just when does Mike Davis and his minions (I assume he has minions) make these changes to the course?

    From the TV schedule, it looks like players start early in the morning — 7:00 am — and the last group starts some time after 3:00 pm, I would figure you have to play into early evening.

    • art thiel

      Pin placements are announced first thing each day. No time for prep. USGA anticipating 4:45 per threesome. Last group goes around 2:15.

      • Cheryl Marks

        Thanks, Art. So do they place the pins after the last group for the next morning — or by dawn’s early light?

        • art thiel

          I think the fescue elves scamper about in the darkness using the light from their smartphones to go diabolical.

          • Cheryl Marks

            Yes! And fescue elf dolls are available in the gift shop!

  • notaboomer

    what time do david duval and tiger tee off?

    • art thiel

      You missed Duval by about a decade.

      • notaboomer


  • Lodowick

    I have a feeling we’re going to see a couple special shots from Phil. One is going to be spectacular and lead to an amazing birdie. The other is going to, in its other-worldly strangeness, make the torturous course look oddly playable. Not that it won’t lead to a double bogey.

    • art thiel

      On the same hole, no doubt. My guess is Phil’s in the mix Sunday.

  • Warchild_70

    Me thinks that Tiger needs to call on Mr. Potter and ask for any tips to defeating the diabolical Voldemort or maybe just man up and play is tuckus off!