DALY CITY, CA - JUNE 11: Tiger Woods of the United States hits an approach shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 112th U.S. Open at The Olympic Club on June 11, 2012 in Daly City, California. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Tiger Woods expects to grind out his first two rounds at Olympic Club in virtual silence, despite his star-studded grouping with Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.
If you’re expecting a lot of chit-chat among three of the biggest names who’ll try to tame the Olympic Club on Thursday and Friday, Tiger Woods intimated that you’ll be sorely disappointed.
“I don't think we're going to talk about a lot,” Woods told reporters Tuesday about the marquee U.S. Open threesome that will reunite him with former Ryder Cup teammates Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson for the first two rounds. “This is a major championship. We've got work to do.”
Woods suggested he would put blinders on for the “long grind” that is the hallmark of any U.S. Open.
“It's such a test, playing in this championship,” he said. “I think this is one of those championships that I think the guys talk the least to one another because it's so difficult.”
Watson, who’s coming off a missed cut at the Memorial Tournament after returning to the course from a month-long post-Masters break, said the “huge galleries” would provide some extra intensity, for sure. While he expected each golfer to concentrate on his own game, Watson also conceded he might pick up some tips from his iconic playing partners.
“We've all played with each other before. They're not going to be focused on what I'm doing, hopefully I'm not going to be focused on what they're doing,” Watson said. “We're all going to try to be hitting these little fairways and these little greens and somehow two-putt.”
The reigning Masters champ agreed with Woods that the course’s tough setup would be a test, but allowed that it would also be an enjoyable couple of days.
“We're not going to be focused on what each other is doing, we're going to be focused on the tough golf course at hand and the mental preparation,” Watson said. “We need to be on top of our game for 18 holes. But it will be fun, though, it's two legends.”
Watson claimed that playing with the big guns would not intimidate him but said the charged atmosphere could amp up his approach.
“Obviously you step up your game,” he said. “I'm guessing we're going to have big crowds. You're stepping up there in a different situation. Your mental focus, your preparation is different. Everything is heightened a little bit.”
Watson also acknowledged that he hoped to learn a thing or two from guys he grew up watching.
“You watch how they handle their situation. You wonder how they handle a bad lie. You learn from two legends of the game,” Watson said. “One is probably number one of all time and one is probably top five, for sure. So you're going to learn a lot from them, seeing how they go about their business.”
For Woods, teeing it up with two stars of the game would be just another day at the office.
“Any extra motivation? No,” he said. “I'm just trying to get out there and position myself for Sunday.”