Woods hopeful to repeat 2000 Pebble Beach magic at 2019 U.S. Open

Courtesy: MGN
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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) - One reason for Tiger Woods' less-than-great showing at the PGA Championship last month: "I was in rough shape," he said.

Were you feeling stiff? Did you have a cold? "Yeah. All of the above," he said.

He missed the cut last month at Bethpage, only a month after his comeback for the ages at the Masters.

But Woods says he's feeling better this week as he prepares for Pebble Beach, where he won the U.S. Open by 15 shots back in 2000.

It's a course that looks very much the same to him as it did 19 years ago.

"The golf ball's going further than it did back in 2000, but I'm slower than I was in 2000," he said. "I'm about the same distance. The golf course doesn't play that much different for me. It's a matter of putting the ball in the right spots."

Tiger Woods knows all about playing through an injury in chase of a championship: He won the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines on an injured left knee that needed major reconstructive surgery after the tournament.

So that gave Woods a special insight into what Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant went through Monday night in the NBA Finals. Durant returned to the floor after missing more than a month with a strained right calf and then suffered a much more serious injury when he hurt the Achilles on the same leg in the second quarter of Golden State's 106-105 victory at Toronto.

"It was sad," Woods said. "As athletes we've all been there to that spot when you just know it, that something just went, and can't move, can't do much of anything. And you can see it on his face, how solemn his face went. He knows it when things pop. You just know.

"And I've been there. I've had it to my own Achilles. I've had it to my own back. I know what it feels like. It's an awful feeling. And no one can help you. That's the hard part."

Brooks Koepka is going for a third straight U.S. Open title aware that the odds are stacked against him.

The only player to go back-to-back-to-back in golf's toughest test was Willie Anderson in 1905.

Koepka doesn't know much about Anderson. He pointed to more recent history when talking about his quest at Pebble Beach. It has been eight years since anyone has won the same tournament three straight times, much less a U.S. Open. That was Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic.

Koepka also considered the field of players trying to stop him. One key figure is Dustin Johnson, who has won twice at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and has finished no worse than third in three of the last four U.S. Opens.

Jordan Spieth has a magic number: 3-under par.

"I'd sign up for 3 under for the next 25 U.S. Opens and just sit and watch," he said. "I mean, it's likely anything under par for the next 20 years is probably going to be in the top five and have a chance to win."

Notorious for its difficult course setups, the USGA is under pressure to get it right this year at Pebble Beach after a series of missteps marred U.S. Opens at Shinnecock Hills, Erin Hills and Chambers Bay.

Last year, Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open at 1 over, and par has often been a good enough score to win, regardless of the course. The last time the Open was held here, Graeme McDowell won at even-par 284.

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