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Tiger Woods’ last-minute U.S. Open practice session raises questions about his confidence

In his heyday, Tiger would stride onto a golf track early on the day before a major. That was then and this is now, and Woods’ dress rehearsal for the U.S. Open was on the range, not the course.

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Tiger Woods talked about how confident he was coming into this week’s U.S. Open, but his actions — a late-afternoon practice session on Wednesday — may speak louder than his words.

Woods surprised media and fans alike when he showed up around 4 p.m. local time for some extended work on the range with swing consultant Chris Como and caddie Joe LaCava in tow. He hit shots for more than two hours and did not go out on the course for nine holes, which was out of the ordinary for the 14-time major winner.

In times past, Woods was a dew sweeper the day before a grand slam event, hitting the course before most other players and being among the first wave of competitors to exit the premises. But not this year, on a Chambers Bay track that will be a rigorous physical and mental challenge for everyone but that could prove even more so for the 195th-ranked player in the world, one who’s coming off a career-worst 72-hole score at the Memorial two weeks ago.

Indeed, Team Tiger did not know what to expect from the boss when they arrived on site almost 24 hours before Woods’ 2:28 p.m. PT Thursday tee time. LaCava told Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis that Tiger would determine the immediate schedule as the afternoon wore on.

"‘I don’t know, it’s up to him,’" Lewis said LaCava told him. "‘If he feels confident enough with his swing, we’ll go out and play nine. If not, we’ll spend our time right here, on the practice area.’"

With Woods apparently still trying to find his swing, a day before tackling a fast, fiery, and potentially hazardous Chambers Bay layout, Golf Channel analyst David Duval believed his former rival needed to take his rehearsal to the actual stage.

"Hopefully, for him, he goes out and plays because he could get a lot more work on the golf course where there’s a little bit more of an anxiety level brought up when you have to aim it and fire it at certain places," Duval said while Woods worked through the clubs in his bag. "Just firing way on the driving range I don’t think is going to do him a whole lot of good at this point."

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