Tiger Woods has surely made his way around the Lake Course at Olympic in recent weeks to prepare for the 2012 U.S. Open, but he'll officially start Open week on Monday morning with the first practice round tee time. Woods is renowned for playing his practice rounds as early as possible, often getting to the course before the sun comes up and getting out of Dodge (or on the range) well before many of the patrons arrive.
He'll tee off at 7 a.m. local time on Monday morning at Olympic, playing with another headliner this week, albeit for entirely different reasons. Woods will play in a foursome that includes Casey Martin, his one-time teammate at nearby Stanford. Martin will make his second appearance at a major championship this week, the first being the 1998 U.S. Open at Olympic.
Martin earned a spot in the field of that Open by qualifying at sectionals and entered the week in the center of firestorm of debate over whether he should be allowed to use a cart as an aid to a leg condition that made him unable to walk a competitive round of 18 holes. He made his way into the 2012 Open in the same way, qualifying on Monday with two rounds of 69. Martin no longer plays competitive golf and had not played competitively in five years before Monday's qualifying rounds. He's currently the coach at Oregon but his story will certainly be one to watch this week, even if the circumstances have changed, via Gary Peterson:
"It'll be different because there will be no expectations, no pressure," he said. "I don't play anymore. I just don't want to shoot a million."
Rounding out the foursome with Woods and Martin on Monday will be another Stanford product, sophomore Cameron Wilson, and Oregon State Beaver Nick Sherwood. Like Martin, both Sherwood and Wilson qualified at sectionals.
One group behind them in the second tee time of the day will be Bubba Watson. Bubba started out on Tour by being a regular practice round partner of Woods. Often at Bubba's insistence, Woods took him under his wing as a practice round companion and Tiger enjoyed warming up with Watson early in the week. The 2012 Masters Champ enters the week searching for his form after minimal reps since the season's first major.