- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2008

SAN DIEGO (AP) | U.S. Open week arrived at Torrey Pines on Monday, when Tiger Woods had to share the city-owned course with fellow competitors and a gallery that grew at every hole.

If anyone didn’t realize that Woods had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee two days after the Masters, they wouldn’t have known by the way he played the South Course’s front nine in a practice round.

“He didn’t say ‘Ow’ to me, so it must be good,” cracked Bubba Watson, who played with Woods and amateur Jordan Cox from Stanford.

The threesome teed off at about 7 a.m. under an overcast sky and with no wind coming off the Pacific Ocean. Woods pulled out after nine holes, spent some time on the putting green and then walked toward the Lodge at Torrey Pines at about 10:15 a.m., accompanied by two San Diego policemen, caddie Steve Williams and swing coach Hank Haney.

Woods didn’t speak to reporters.

“He looked good,” Haney said. “He’ll be OK. No problems so far.”

On Wednesday, Woods played his first round of golf since knee surgery, getting in 17-plus holes riding in a cart. He played in solitude that day amid tight security with no media or spectators allowed on the course. He stopped only when he saw a small group of people with cameras waiting around the 18th green.

On Monday, Woods scrambled in and out of bunkers and crushed some drives. He didn’t appear to favor his knee.

“I don’t think the surgery affected him at all,” Cox said. “He’s hitting it really, really well right now.”

Woods didn’t hit every fairway. He played mostly tee to green, not bothering to putt out on every hole. The three did spend time chipping and putting toward anticipated pin placements at Torrey Pines, the first city-owned course to play host to the U.S. Open.

Most of all, he looked fit.

“He’s got a whole career to worry about,” Watson said. “I don’t think he’s going to mess it up. That’s what he did. He pulled out of Memorial because he felt he wasn’t ready, and if he wasn’t ready here, he wouldn’t show up no matter what the course was, no matter what the crowd wants, no matter what the media wants.”

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