So it was business as usual; four PGA Tour wins from ten starts had set Tiger Woods up well in preparation for the 2000 US Open. Top of the US Money list, top of the world rankings, the reigning USPGA champion also arrived on America’s west coast on the back of a first-place finish in his previous event at the Memorial Tournament.
The 100th US Open at Pebble Beach would be Woods’ 81st outing on the PGA Tour. From his 80 starts he had won 20 times – a quite staggering statistic for a man of his 24 years. Come the season’s second Major, his intentions were clear, and prior to the tournament, the world No.1 had spent an intensive three-day session with his coach, Butch Harmon, preparing for his assault on the vicious shoreline set-up at Pebble Beach.
Butch Harmon, Sports Illustrated
We had spent some time working on a few things, but it was really just ironing out a few issues here and there. We just had to shape some shots, curve the ball a bit to how it would play out there.
On the eve of the tournament, Woods’ almost monotonous focus had caused controversy when he chose to play a scheduled practice round instead of attending the Wednesday memorial in memory of the late Payne Stewart. The reigning US Open champion, who had won the 1999 tournament at Pinehurst in such thrilling fashion, had tragically died in a plane crash the previous October. Woods was not the only absentee, and those who chose to be elsewhere had requested a minute’s silence while out on the course.
“I felt it would be more of a deterrent,” claimed Woods. “I didn’t want to spend the week thinking about it.”
Lewine Mair, Golf Monthly, August 2000
Woods and Mark O’Meara, both of whom had attended Stewart’s funeral, stayed with the 7am starting time [for the practice round] they had booked for months.