SAN FRANCISCO – For the past 15 years, seemingly every player on the PGA Tour has been asked to answer questions about Tiger Woods at one time or another.
At the U.S. Open Tuesday at The Olympic Club, Woods was asked questions about other big stories in the field – mostly Casey Martin, Woods former college teammate at Stanford, and 14-year-old Andy Zhang.
Martin, who has a rare circulatory condition in his leg, last played in the U.S. Open in 1998 here at Olympic and is now the golf coach at the University of Oregon. He won the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Oregon to punch his ticket to the U.S. Open.
“Unless you really know him I don’t think people really have appreciation for how much pain he’s in,” Woods said of Martin. “He doesn’t show it, doesn’t talk about it, doesn’t complain about it, he just lives with it.
“You just look at him, he’s always so happy. It's very easy to go the other way and be very bitter, because of how uncomfortable he is on a daily basis. But I think that's what makes him special. That's what makes him so different than everyone else - he has such a strong will and such a strong spirit.”
As for Zhang, he, too, will need a strong will when he tees it up against all his golf idols. The 14-year-old will make history Thursday as the youngest player ever to play in the U.S. Open by more than a year.
There are no expectations of Zhang this week, and some even wonder if he’s too young to be playing in an Open.
“He qualified, he earned a spot,” Woods said. “I tried it when I was 15.
“He shot the scores he needed to qualify and move on and he did and he's here playing on the biggest stage. Just think about the experience he's going to gain playing in this event.”