Tiger Woods confident he can end Major title drought at Hoylake
American star believes he can end six-year wait since last Major win at US Open
Tiger Woods tees off the 12th as a butterfly flies by during practice on Tuesday ahead of the British Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA
Tiger Woods needed just one word to describe what an acceptable finishing position would be on his return to Major championship action in the 143rd British Open Championship.
With the other 2,900 words of his pre-tournament press conference however, the former world number one offered insights into why that might prove a piece of very wishful thinking at Hoylake.
“First,” was Woods’s predictable reply when asked where he would be happy to finish on Sunday evening. Pressed to elaborate after the laughter had subsided, he added: “That’s always the case.”
The laughter indicated that no-one expected him to say anything else, but while Woods in his prime was capable of backing up such goals with monotonous regularity, that has not been the case for several years.
The 38-year-old claimed his third Claret Jug the last time the British Open was staged at Hoylake in 2006, but has not won a Major of any description since the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines.
Woods underwent season-ending knee surgery immediately after that play-off win over Rocco Mediate, while further knee and Achilles problems meant he missed the 2011 US and British Opens.
A back operation in March to relieve the pain caused by a pinched nerve meant Woods missed the Masters for the first time in his career and the US Open at Pinehurst, while he missed the cut in his comeback event at Congressional at the end of last month.
Throw in the off-course issues, such as the death of his father Earl in May 2006 and Woods’s public humiliation and divorce from the mother of his two children, and that goal of a fourth British Open title seems more distant than ever.
“It feels great to come back to Hoylake and to this venue,” Woods said on Tuesday. “It meant a lot to me in my life at the time. That was a very emotional week.
“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, and then I didn’t play well at the (US) Open, missed the cut there miserably.
“And then I came here and just felt at peace. On Sunday I really felt calm out there. It was surreal at the time. I’ve had a few moments like that in Majors where I’ve felt that way on a Sunday. And that was certainly one of them.
“If I knew (why) I’d do it all the time. But it just happens. Maybe because I was in control of my game. The times I’ve had it I’ve really played well. I think that in ’97 at Augusta (his first Major title) I had it going pretty good, 2000 at both the US Open and The Open Championship (15 and eight-shot wins at Pebble Beach and St Andrews respectively) as well.