The man has changed. At least to our way of thinking. It’s a different Tiger Woods.
The course has changed. The Pebble Beach that Woods and the rest of the field will challenge starting Thursday in the U.S. Open is not the Pebble on which Woods won the Open 10 years ago.
Woods ran through a litany of alterations — “On 3, those new bunkers down the right side; 6 is way different” — commenting on all 18 holes as if a new Pebble had been plunked down on the bluffs above Carmel Bay.
But is it an entirely new Woods who will play this Open? When a British journalist asked Woods if he had resolved the situation with his estranged wife, Elin, he snapped, “That’s none of your business.”
Part of everyone’s business is Woods’ condition and the state of his game.
“Way different,” he said of the two months since returning to play at the Masters in April, following the four-month layoff because of his self-proclaimed marriage infidelities.
“I’ve played so much more since then,” Woods said. “I only had a few weeks to get ready for Augusta. Now, I’ve been playing tournament golf basically since April.
“As far as my game, I’m very excited about how it’s progressed, since before the Memorial, then obviously during the Memorial it’s gotten better. It’s started to solidify, and I’m actually excited to tee it up Thursday.”
The first two days Woods plays with Ernie Els, who in 2000 tied for second, 15 shots back, and Lee Westwood.
“I think,” Woods said, “we’re going to have a good time.”
Which means so will the spectators.