(Pinehurst) The last time he appeared at Pinehurst No. 2, 19 years ago, Tiger Woods finished second in the U.S. Open. This time, the circumstances will be very different.

It’s not the same Tiger Woods, of course.

Woods has never taken so long to return to a Grand Slam court that he has paced before. He showed up there Tuesday, a week ago, and returned last weekend, to become more familiar with a course that was revamped before the 2014 United States Open. had not participated, while he was recovering from one of his four back surgeries.

What is the same, however, is the nature of the U.S. Open.

“This pitch is going to test every aspect of your game, especially mentally, because it takes a certain amount of mental discipline to be able to negotiate with this pitch. It will be very demanding,” he said Tuesday after completing a third consecutive nine-hole round.

This will be his first U.S. Open since Winged Foot in 2020.

He trained. He made approach shots and putts. But Woods doesn’t play many full rounds, due to the numerous injuries that have slowed the 48-year-old — five back surgeries, four knee surgeries, and all before his road accident in Los Angeles in February 2021 that shattered his right leg and ankle.

This will be his 10th tournament since this incident, and it will be the first time since 2020 that he will play a third consecutive Grand Slam tournament. As a result, he needs to train, but also to participate in more tournaments, while accepting the limits imposed by his body.

What can we anticipate this week?

“I feel like I’ve gained enough strength to do it,” he said. Now the puzzle pieces just need to fall into place. »

Woods spent Tuesday morning with Max Homa and Min Woo Lee, as well as his 15-year-old son Charlie. More than just a spectator, Woods said Charlie knows his game better than anyone and his advice is invaluable to him.

“I trust him, with my swing and my game. He has watched me more than anyone on the planet. He saw me hit more balls than anyone else, he recalled. He offered me some advice today, which was great, because sometimes I get so focused on certain putts on certain greens that I forget about the other things I need to work on. »

For Woods, therefore, the first objective will be to cross the qualifying threshold for the weekend’s rounds. He set a record by avoiding the ax for the 24th time in a row at the Masters Tournament, before being completely mauled at the PGA Championship.

For Woods, however, the cleaver was never an obsession. However, it seems that the situation has changed, as it seems less and less likely that he will ever be able to win a tournament as he last did in Japan in 2020. The American is currently experiencing a streak of 11 tournaments where he could not finish within 10 strokes of the eventual winner.