Tiger Woods has not played much golf this season but that doesn’t mean he has lowered his expectations heading into this year’s Open Championship.
The former World No. 1 is at Royal Liverpool in search of a 15th Major title on the course where he won the 2006 Open. The 38-year-old sees no reason why he cannot collect another Claret Jug come Sunday night.
“First,” he said in answer to a question about what would be an acceptable finish for him this weekend. “That’s always the case.”
Woods has played only once competitively since undergoing major back surgery in March but he believes those two rounds at the Quicken Loans National at Congressional are all he needs.
“Playing at Congressional was a big boost to me,” he said. “The fact I was able to go at it (the ball) hard, and hit it like that with no pain was big for me. It wasn’t like that the previous time I played. Playing at both the Honda and the Doral I did not feel well. But to come back and be able to hit the ball as well as I was able to hit it was great. I’ve gotten stronger since then, more explosive and faster.”
Tiger’s one concession was to arrive at Hoylake one day early to get in some extra practice. “I went to Geneva for a day, but came here a day earlier than I normally would and it has worked out,” he said. “I played Saturday. I played Sunday and I took yesterday off.
“I’ve seen the golf course in three different winds and that’s awfully nice because I’ve had to hit completely different clubs off the tee. I’m ready.”
Woods went on to shed some new light on how much he had suffered before back surgery. “When my knee was bad, I could still do things. I could still swing a club, although it hurt a lot to do it. However, with the back, I didn’t want to do anything. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t move around the house. I couldn’t actually enjoy my life at all.”
Woods arrived at Hoylake eight years ago just months after his father, Earl, had passed away. “It was an emotional time,” he admitted. “As you know, I pressed pretty hard at Augusta that year, trying to win it, because it was the last time my Dad was ever going to see me play a Major Championship. I didn’t play well at the (US) Open and missed the cut there miserably. Then I came here and just felt at peace. I really, really played well. On Sunday I really felt calm out there.
“I’ve had a few moments like that in Majors, where I felt that way on Sunday, and that was certainly one of them,” he added. “I think that in 1997 at Augusta I had it going pretty good. 2000 at both the US Open and The Open Championship I had it going pretty good, as well. 2006 was the same. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was every day but certainly on Sunday I really felt my Dad was with me on that one round. I said back then in 2006 it was like having a 15th club. It was all a bit surreal.”