Shinnecock Hills was practically empty. I like playing with Tiger. In between, there have been four back surgeries since 2014, substance abuse, withdrawals, a ranking of 1,199th in the world, and a lot of false starts. A year that began with intrigue soon gave way to hysteria over anticipation of his first victory in almost five years. "It definitely would be awesome to get my second major".
"Golf is always frustrating". "And, right now, he hasn't driven the ball quite as well earlier in the year, but it's gotten better".
"When I'm at home, I have a couple practice putters that I have, and I've always been one that likes the heel-shafted putter. The key is to hit putts solid and see what happens".
Further down the odds to win the 2018 U.S. Open, defending tournament champion Brooks Koepka sits alone at +2000, followed by Jon Rahm at +2200, and Hideki Matsuyama at +2800, while Phil Mickelson continues the search for an elusive first career victory at the event, joined by Henrik Stenson at +3000. "And he's got a brand new set of irons that I think he feels comfortable with now, so I think he's got a great opportunity to compete and get in the mix at the U.S. Open".
And he hasn't forgotten Tiger Woods. It's a lot longer, the fairways seem to be twice as wide.
Tiger Woods plays with world numbers one and...
It's the only major absent from Lefty's bulging trophy cabinet, but the 30/1 shot heads to NY on the back of some decent results this season, with the 47-year-old - who turned 48 on Saturday - carving out a long overdue win in March's WGC Mexico, and he's since finished 5th at Wells Fargo, while has back-to-back top-15 finishes in his last two tournaments.
But no trophies. No fist pumps.
"Staying on the dinghy helps", Woods said with a grin.
"I've given myself chances to win, which I didn't know if I was ever going to do again", he says. And then again, not happy with the fact that I didn't win because I loved how it felt being there.
On Tuesday, he spoke about playing Shinnecock Hills as an opportunity to add to his three U.S. Open titles, but also as filling a hole in his existence after skipping the last two. "I didn't know if I was going to have them again".
As the U.S. Open is poised to regain its status as the toughest test in golf, the course is likely to be the star as much as the game's biggest names.
Yet Day had a different attitude when he was on the practice green on Tuesday, and Woods arrived, with hundreds of fans in tow.
In total it took him two hours and 20 minutes to make a 40 mile trip to the course... at 5.30am in the morning.
Jason Day has learned that life in a motor home can be rewarding on the PGA Tour.
"Everyone wants to see what he looks like, or how big is he, or just see the myth behind Tiger Woods". The native of Northern Ireland has four major tournament wins to his credit, including his first major victory at the 2011 U.S. Open. He was coming off the highest score of his career, an 85 in the third round at the Memorial, and never stood a chance on the course built over a former gravel pit.
In Woods's last Open, he shot 80-76 at Chambers Bay in 2015, while Spieth went on to win his first.
Woods has been stuck on 14 majors for a decade, his epic victory in the 2008 U.S. Open being his last.
Meanwhile Mickelson, having finished runner-up at the U.S. Open six times, has eyes on completing a sweep of all the majors, a feat Woods has already achieved. He replaced Justin Thomas, the PGA champion who turned 25 in April.
It's therefore an unexpected luxury to have both of them back in the field, and in such form.
"It didn't affect me, or it wasn't that hard on me because I couldn't do anything about it", Thomas said.
"But at the same time, I know that he's still hungry". The latest edition of the famous tournament takes place at one of America's most historic golf courses, Shinnecock Hills (7,440-yard par 70), with New York's Long Island venue hosting the event for a fifth time. "And I think we're at Augusta, and he walks under my bus, and he's like, 'Hey, man, what are you doing?'"