Tiger Woods: Portrush is ‘an unbelievable golf course’

In the past he played a lot of links golf in Ireland ahead of various British Opens

US golfer Tiger Woods takes part in a press conference at The 148th British Open at Portrush golf club. Photograph: Getty Images

US golfer Tiger Woods takes part in a press conference at The 148th British Open at Portrush golf club. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Tiger Woods’s cheeky attempt to get some inside knowledge of the links ahead of this 148th British Open - by inveigling to arrange a practice round with Brooks Koepka, whose Portrush-born caddie Ricky Elliott knows the course better than anyone - was met with no response.

“I texted Brooksie,” said Woods, laughing. “(Sent) congratulations on another great finish (in the US Open) . . . he’s been in contention to win each and every Major championship (of late). And I said, ‘hey dude, do you mind if I tag along and play a practice round?’ I’ve heard nothing.”

Although he was met with silence on that particular effort, Woods and his own caddie Joe LaCava have worked together to try to work out how to play a links course which, for the vast majority of the field, takes them into the unknown given it is playing host to the championship for the first time since 1951.

Woods - in the past - played a lot of links golf in Ireland ahead of the British Open championships, taking in Waterville, Portmarnock, The European and Royal County Down among others but had never made it as far north as Portrush.

“It’s amazing that it hasn’t been here in such a long period of time. I know that the R&A has a deal where we go back and forth from Scotland to England. This is just a wonderful golf course. It can play so many different ways, depends on the wind, what it does. Some of the bunkers here, you wonder why in the hell is it there. And then all of a sudden it’s in play.

“The difference between this layout versus most of the Open rota layouts is that the ball seems to repel around the greens a lot. You’re going to have a lot of either bump-and-run chips, chips, or quite a bit of slow putts coming up the hills. But it’s an unbelievable golf course,” said Woods of the layout as he finalises his preparations in his bid for a 16th career Major.

Woods, winner of the Masters at Augusta National in April, has played only sparingly as he protects his body. In fact, he has played only three times since that Masters win - at the PGA, where he missed the cut, at the Memorial where he tied-ninth and the US Open when he finished tied-21st - and that intentionally light schedule has been designed to target the Majors.

“This year I made a conscious effort to cut back on my schedule to make sure that I don’t play too much. I want to play here as long as I possibly can. And you have to understand, if I play a lot, I won’t be out here that long. So it’s understanding how much I can play, prepping how much I do at home and getting ready. And that’s the tricky part is trying to determine how much tournament play I need to get the feel for the shots and also understanding where my body is,” said Woods, who contended at Carnoustie last year until the back nine of the final round.

Woods concluded his on course work on Tuesday, with the plan to work on his swing on the range and to take Wednesday off and perhaps indulge in some local sightseeing.

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