Woods says the memory of his father will fuel his U.S. Open game

In his first news conference since the death five weeks ago of his best friend and mentor – his father, Earl Woods – Tiger Woods said he is finally looking forward to competing in the 106th annual U.S. Open.

“I’m very excited the way I’ve played at home, and even more excited the way I’ve played here,” Woods, 30, said Tuesday at the Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., where the tournament runs from Thursday through Sunday and where Woods is hoping to win his third U.S. Open. “I’m looking forward to Thursday.”

According to the Associated Press, Woods said that until recently the thought of playing again was hard to bear because it would remind him of Earl, who’d taught him the game and who died of prostate cancer at 74 last month.

“I really had no desire to get back to the game of golf because of all the memories,” Woods said.

But when he finally took out his clubs last month, he found that the memories in fact made him happy.

“It was hard times going out there late in the evening like I always do,” he said. “Any time you take time off and start back, you always work on your fundamentals: grip, posture, stance, alignment. Well, that’s what I learned from Dad. It brought back so many great memories, and every time I thought back, I always had a smile on my face.”

Woods will end his self-imposed nine-week hiatus from the PGA Tour on Thursday.

“I’m here to win the tournament, and all my energy is going toward that,” he said. “We’ve gone through a lot already. Hitting a golf ball around like this is actually the easy part.”

He added, “I know that Dad would still want me to go out there and grind it and give it my best, and that’s what I always do. That’s what I will certainly try to do this week.”