- Associated Press - Thursday, June 16, 2011

BETHESDA, MD. (AP) - Dear Tiger:

Don’t know what you had planned for this week, maybe picking up the kids from preschool or cleaning out that bedroom closet you’ve been meaning to get to. Understand you’re kind of out of your normal routine, but maybe the guys at the club will want to do lunch or play some cards.

You’re not really missing much at Congressional, where the biggest news is they switched around some holes since the last time the U.S. Open was played here. Something about making things more interesting on Sunday, where someone from somewhere other than the host country will surely be hoisting the trophy over his head.

Believe me, this tournament needs something to make it interesting. You’ll probably be out on the yacht this weekend, but if you tune in, I challenge you to tell me the difference between one long tree-lined hole at Congressional and the long tree-lined hole that follows it.

The course is missing something, but the field is missing even more. Without you there’s no swarm of humanity moving from hole to hole, no fans climbing trees for a better look, and no one high-fiving the stranger next to him when you hole yet another crucial putt.

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that Rory McIlroy is a fine young golfer with a fine future. The graceful way he handled his final-round blowup at the Masters this year won him a lot of admirers. So did his trip to Haiti earlier this month to see if he could do anything about the suffering there.

But he’s not you.

My guess is you’ll resist the urge to turn on the big screen and watch it all unfold. After all, if the Open is really as hard as Phil Mickelson made it appear Thursday, you wouldn’t have won it on just one leg at Torrey Pines three years ago.

I know you’re missing your first U.S. Open since turning pro, but I did see your caddie here with Adam Scott’s bag over his shoulder. That got me thinking that you may be gone longer than you’ve let on or that all wasn’t right with Team Tiger, but I’m sure you’ll explain everything when you finally do come back.

Your new swing coach is here, too, though no one seemed to notice. Sean Foley was just one of 10,000 guys walking around with fanny packs, though you’ll be happy to know he did stop long enough at the driving range to diagnose the woes of some of his other clients.

Hope the knee is feeling better, and those reports of you in a walking boot and on crutches aren’t true. Even if they are, I’m pretty sure you could contend this weekend among the pretenders to your throne.

I mean, the course isn’t that tough, Tiger. They’ve obviously been putting water on the greens, and the pins were set in positions even a freshman congressman could handle. You would have torn this place apart, and probably been back at your hotel leading by four shots now.

But it’s more than that. Wandering around Congressional during the opening round were golf fans who paid good money thinking they were going to watch you play. It used to be almost all of them did that so they could cheer for you to win, but I’m sure you’ve found out by now there are also those who cheer for you to lose.

But they cheer one way or another because you are Tiger Woods.

If nothing else, you would have created some buzz. A few F-bombs shouted from the tee surely would have livened up things a bit, even if you were out there hobbling between shots.

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