Tiger Woods is looking forward to the “fun challenge” presented by the fast and firm conditions at Carnoustie for The 147th Open this week.
The hot, dry summer in the UK so far has resulted in baked fairways and conditions almost identical to the course at Royal Liverpool 12 years ago, when Woods clinched a two-shot victory and etched his name on the Claret Jug for the third time.
Woods used his driver only sparingly at Hoylake and hit 86 per cent of the fairways as he became the first player to successfully defend The Open title since Tom Watson 23 years previously.
And, despite not having added to his haul of 14 majors since 2008, Woods believes his experience of playing links golf in similar conditions will give him a huge confidence boost in his first appearance in the tournament for three years.
“It’s just about understanding how to play the golf course and how to play in these conditions,” Woods told his pre-tournament press conference. “I think trajectory means a lot, but this course can be played so many different ways.
“It is going to be an interesting test of how we are going to manage our way around the course. A couple of days ago, the fairways were faster than the greens!
“There are not a lot of opportunities to hit driver just because the ball is going to be rolling out 80 yards. It’s just hard to keep the ball in play, and even when you’re hitting four or five-irons, they’ve been running 50 to 60 yards.
“It will be interesting to see which clubs we’re using off the tees, and a lot of it is dependent on which way the wind blows. So the whole idea of the practice rounds is to get a good feel for what I’m going to do, and then adjust accordingly based on the wind.”
Woods is also aware of the need to be creative, rather than powerful, to enjoy success on links courses, and he is using Tom Watson’s spectacular performance at Turnberry in 2009 as an inspiration.
Asked if The Open was his best chance of breaking his major drought, Woods replied: “As far as long-term, I would say yes because you don’t have to be long to play on a links golf course. Just look at what Tom Watson did at Turnberry at the age of 59.
“Greg Norman was up there at Birkdale the year before and he was mid-50s, so it certainly can be done. You get to places like Augusta National, where’s it’s just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately.
“But you can roll the ball on a links course, so distance becomes a moot point. But creativity plays such an important role as well. There’s a reason why Tom won five of these – he is very creative and hit all the shots you need.
“I’m just really looking forward to the week. This is our oldest championship, and to come back to such a historic site just brings back so many great memories. The course might be a little different to what it was the last couple of times we played it, so it will be a fun challenge.”
(c) Sky News 2018: The Open: Tiger Woods relishing fast, firm conditions at Carnoustie