Nine days remain before the start of the 116th U.S. Open, and though he registered well in advance, the status of three-time champion Tiger Woods remains unclear ahead of golf’s third major of the year.
Speculation continues to swirl around whether or not the 40-year-old Woods will finally make his comeback from the two back surgeries he underwent last year and that have kept him off the PGA tour since August. Woods pulled out of last week’s Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, and his agent Mark Steinberg has said numerous times that Woods has “no timetable” for a return. Meanwhile, Woods' Twitter and Facebook accounts make no reference to the U.S. Open.
Woods registered for next week's U.S. Open, to be held at Oakmont Country Club in Plum, Pennsylvania, on April 4, which was well ahead of the April 27 deadline, according to the United States Golf Association.
But the fact that Woods hasn’t appeared on a course since October's Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, doesn't bode well. The 14-time major champion would be competing for one of golf's biggest prizes after eight months away from the tour.
Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California, marking his last major win. After finishing tied for sixth in 2009 and tied for fourth in 2010, Woods has barely been competitive in the tournament since.
Oddsmakers peg Woods, who is ranked No.556 in the world, as a 75/1 longshot to win the U.S. Open, well behind favored Jason Day (7/1) Rory McIlroy (8/1), and defending champion Jordan Spieth (17/2). Woods odds improve to 11/2 for a shot at finishing in the top 10, according to Sportsbook.ag.
Day told reporters at the Memorial last week that returning at a major would be a tall task for any golfer.
"That's tough to tell. I mean, would you come back to a U.S. Open after having a long time off at one of the hardest venues? It's very difficult,'' Day said.
Day, who’s finished second at the U.S. twice in his career, did, however, leave some room for Woods to exceed expectations.
"The one thing that is good about Oakmont is, if it's dry conditions, you can get away with hitting irons off the tees, and with an iron in his hand, he's pretty deadly,'' Day said. "And when he's on the greens, he's Tiger Woods. It's just hard to come back from such a big layoff to go straight to the hardest tournament of the year.''
Woods also does seem mired in his past accomplishments rather than making new ones. He announced on his official website Monday that he would write a book with journalist and author Lorne Rubenstein about winning the first major of his career, the 1997 Masters.
Woods would win the tournament by a record 12 strokes and went on to win 13 more majors over an 11-year span.
"The 1997 Masters was one of the most important tournaments in my life for many reasons,” Woods said in a statement on his official website Monday. "I think about the hug with my dad and all the events that went on that week. A lot of people know generally about that tournament, but this gives me a chance to tell in detail what happened on and off the course."