Chambers Bay looks like a frustrating course, but Tiger’s performance looks even worse

Published 6:17 pm Friday, June 19, 2015

It was one of the most unremarkable concerning starts to a Major Championship I can remember watching.

This year’s U.S. Open was way on the other side of the country in Washington State. The course is Chambers Bay, but it looks like it’s being played on the coast of Scotland.

The course’s landscape has been described as “lunar,” which isn’t too far off the mark. Scratchy brown hills run up and down the course like veins on a leaf. In other places, the ground rolls like the surface of a Ruffles potato chip.

Email newsletter signup

There is a single tree on No. 15, a 75-year-old monument named “The Lone Fir” that idly stands against an ocean backdrop. But where it lacks in foliage it makes up for in sand. Bunkers and frustrating ditches are scattered everywhere, bending around merciless greens.

It sounds rough, yes. Chambers Bay’s difficulty was made abundantly clear during Thursday’s first round.

While there are 156 players in this thing, everyone’s eyes are on Tiger Woods. But it wasn’t because of his record-setting performances that we all used to turn on our TVs to watch. This time, we were watching him crash. Hard.

The second-all time major winner just couldn’t seem to catch a break, throwing up a disappointing 80. Tee shots fell short into those ruthless bunkers. Getting out of those bunkers was a whole ordeal in itself. His putting game looked gorgeous… until the ball was inches from the hole, where it would unexpectedly run out of gas or rim the cup. One painful tease after another.

He didn’t seem to have control of his swing, either. Things weren’t clicking. You could see it on Tiger’s face: this was a nightmare.

His game was stressing even me out, and I was relaxed on my couch sipping an Arnold Palmer.

As much of a crisis many are having on this course, none seem to be taking it as personally as Tiger. Every stroke is on him. He won’t blame the bunker layouts. He won’t blame his battered body. He won’t blame any lack of support, which has been overwhelming considering how far back he is falling behind.

Blame isn’t how Tiger operates. This is all on him. He’s won three U.S. Opens before with that mentality, the last one in 2008. Can he dig himself out of this one? Doubtful. The real question is if we’ll ever see the Tiger we used to watch return. Something tells me those years are passed. New names are flying onto the scene, kids like Rory McIlroy and Jordan Speith who won’t wait up for Tiger.

We still have two days of golf left. Players will move forward and fight for the win. Tiger is unfortunately out of this one. He’s playing for all he has left: pride.