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U.S. OPEN NOTES

Woods Still Has Major Trouble

June 21, 2004|Thomas Bonk and Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writers

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — The streak goes on for Tiger Woods, who not only extended his streak of majors without a victory to eight, but also shot his worst round in the U.S. Open since he turned professional.

Woods birdied the last hole for a 76 and finished tied for 17th with rounds of 72-69-73-76 and a 10-over total of 290. The last time Woods played a major in par or better was the 2002 PGA Championship.

Woods said he felt all right, not great, but also said again that he's not far off.

"Just the quality of the shots I hit," he said. "So many times I'm just one yard off here and you cannot do that around this golf course."

Woods, like many other players, said the course was simply too dried out and too difficult.

"Don't make it so it's out of control and unfair," he said.

"I think they probably over-adjusted with the [Thursday] rain. They probably said, 'I'm not going to put any more water on it, it's enough' and they just kind of lost it."

At the same time, there may be no end in sight to the Tiger-Butch Harmon saga, which turned another page into near-soap opera status Sunday.

A quick recap: Harmon, who was Woods' swing coach until two years ago, critiqued Woods on Sky television and said if Woods didn't think his swing was troubled, he was "in denial." Woods responded Saturday by saying he thought Harmon was a friend and should have talked to him personally.

On Sunday, Harmon told NBC that he was merely giving opinions as a television analyst.

"Quite frankly, I didn't say anything that the players on the practice tee haven't been saying themselves," he said.

He also said Woods is bigger in the chest and arms and hinted that could be a problem.

"How that's affected the way that he's made his backswing or the way he swings the club, only he will know," Harmon said.

*

From Phil Mickelson, on his closing round of 71, asked if Shinnecock was a true test of golf or unfair: "Well, I don't know what to say. I felt like I played some of the best golf of my life. I hit some of the best shots, I putted better than I probably ever have putted and I still couldn't shoot par. So you tell me."

*

Another streak continues: Retief Goosen's victory means the last six U.S. Open champions either led or were tied for the lead after 54 holes. The list: Payne Stewart in 1999, Woods in 2000, Goosen in 2001, Woods in 2002, Jim Furyk in 2003 and Goosen again.

Besides the $1.125 million he earned, Goosen extended his PGA Tour exemption through 2009, earned a 10-year exemption to the U.S. Open and five-year exemptions into the Masters, British Open and PGA Championship.

*

Jeff Maggert shot 72 and was third -- his seventh top-10 finish in the U.S. Open. Maggert said there was no secret to putting on Sunday.

"You just hit it and hope," he said.

*

Padraig Harrington, regarded as a potential favorite coming in, closed with a 75 and finished at 15 over. He wasn't upset, though.

"I did have fun, a strange sort of fun," he said. "It was interesting out there. It's certainly a challenge. It's nice when things are going your way, and it's tough when they're not. Overall, most of my round was spent trying to break 80."

*

Walter Driver, chairman of the USGA championship committee, said the scores reflected the fact that Shinnecock was in line with previous U.S. Opens held here.

"Let's keep this in perspective," he said. "This is the third modern Open at Shinnecock. Retief shot four under par. In 1986 [Raymond Floyd's] one under won the tournament. And in 1995, [Corey Pavin's] even par won the tournament.

"So, yes, this is a very difficult golf course."

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