Tiger Says U.S. Open Setups Have Gotten Worse

In a week where Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas went on the record with their U.S. Open and USGA beefs, and 57 others went after the governing body under the cloak of anonymity, Tiger Woods added his thoughts to the mix after a third-round 2-under par 70 at the Memorial Tournament.

Speaking with the media after he bogeyed the par-4 18th hole at Muirfield Village Golf Club, Woods was asked about the setups at the U.S. Opens over the years and whether or not he’s had an issue with the way the USGA sets up the courses.

“We all have to play it and I don’t agree with some of the times when they move the tees up and change the golf course,” Woods said. “I didn’t agree with the setup at 14 and in ’08 (at Torrey Pines). It was a great par-4, but why move it all the way up there and make it drivable? I think that’s what — there was a time there where it was a brutal test, and then it became kind of a tricky decision you had to make. Trying to bring in more options off the tees or into the greens.”

Woods guessed the change in course setup began in 2006 at Winged Foot, but said that the Chambers Bay U.S. Open in 2015 was where the USGA jumped the shark in terms of changing tees.

“Probably the biggest example of that was at Chambers,” he said. “It was 240, 250 downhill and then 190, 200 playing straight up the mountain.”

Ever the traditionalist, Woods said he prefers the way the courses were set up earlier in his career more than recent years, and it’s not just the U.S. Open that has changed, he said.

“The Open has changed,” Woods said. “I thought it was just narrow fairways, hit it in the fairway or hack out, move on. Then now there’s chipping areas around the greens. There’s less rough; graduated rough. They try to make The Open different and strategically different. I just like it when there’s high rough and narrow fairways, and go get it, boys.”

Woods enters the final round at the Memorial 11 shots back of 54-hole leader Martin Kaymer whose 6-under par 66 on Saturday opened up a two-stroke advantage over Adam Scott.