News24

Woods seeks Open solace

2010-07-09 09:45

St Andrews - Tiger Woods returns to St Andrews next week for the 150th British Open, the world number one hoping that his favourite course can help him revive the form that has brought 14 major titles.

Woods, his iconic image shattered by revelations he cheated on wife Elin for years with multiple mistresses, won Open crowns on the Old Course by eight strokes in 2000 and five shots in 2005 and takes the same approach this time.

"Nothing changes. I know what it takes to be ready," Woods said. "I know what it takes to win major championships. Just need to get to that point and put it all together at the right time."

Woods shared fourth at the Masters in April and at last month's US Open at Pebble Beach. Another failure will see him squander a run many expected to be crucial in his pursuit of the record 18 major titles won by Jack Nicklaus.

Another victory at the birthplace of golf, however, might be a giant step on the path to reviving his fortunes, at least on the course.

"To win at the home of golf, that would be what every champion wants to have happen," Woods said. "This is where it all started and to win at the home of golf, there's a special feeling.

"To walk up the last hole, I've had that at other championships before, but this one is different."

Woods is different as well. Last week he shared 46th at the PGA National, an event he hosted before the scandal and won last year on a different course. He failed to break par in any round for the first time outside a Major since 1999.

The three-time British Open champion dismissed the notion that his recent struggles are scandal-related, saying at an Irish charity event, "I think you are reading too deep into this."

Woods went back home to Florida for practice and said he would see his children before his first top-level event beyond US borders since the scandal erupted, saying he would be back at St Andrews on Sunday or Monday.

"I can't wait to get over there," Woods said. "I'm looking forward to getting my lines, my feels, my numbers over there again. I love playing the golf course and we'll see how the weather is. You never know."

Chasing a top prize of 850,000 pounds (1.3 million dollars or one million euros) at the 4.8 million-pound event, Woods said precision and not his trademark power is why he so dearly loves the challenge offered by St Andrews.

"I fell in love with the golf course the first time I played it in 1995," Woods said.

"People think it's so wide open, but it's not, because in order to get to a lot of the flags, you have to put the ball in the correct spot to have angles. If you keep firing left and the pins are tucked, you're going to have 50-, 60-, 80-foot putts all day.

"It's just an amazing, amazing test of positioning your golf ball. You don't have to hit the ball long. It's about putting the ball in the correct spots."

What Woods needs to find most is his once-indomitable putting stroke. The man who was known for making long putts in pressure-packed situations has not had the magic on the greens nor the aura that once made him seem invincible.

"I just need to get my putter organized a little better and really work on my putting over there. We're going to be tested," Woods said. "There are a lot of long putts. Good shots over there a lot of times end up 50 feet away.

"Hopefully we'll get dialed in for the British."

AFP