Published: Wed, July 18, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Tiger Woods prepared for return to Carnoustie

Tiger Woods prepared for return to Carnoustie

It brought a smile to his face, as recalling the days of innocence often do. Getting to attempt a putt from 120 yards, which he did on the second hole of his practice round, was a thrill. "I feel a bit more comfortable on this stage than I have in previous years, which is nice". "You see I'm just telling the story now". And there's something about links golf that inspires him. "Doesn't get any better than that". He didn't contend on the back nine in the previous Opens at Carnoustie, in 1999 and 2007, though he wasn't far from a playoff.

Woods will use a new two-iron this week to plot his way around Carnoustie, which remains rock hard and parched, despite a spot of light rain that fell while he was talking to the media.

Woods played just eight holes, the first to fourth inclusive and then crossed to the 15th to play the closing four holes. He's played in 12 PGA Tour events this season, won twice and has seven top-10 finishes. He was T32 at the Masters and missed the cut at the U.S. Open.

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Tom Watson is one of five men in history to win The Open Championship at least five times, and trails only the legendary Harry Vardon in wins (6).

While the U.S. Open was an exceedingly hard course this year, with breakneck-paced greens and narrow fairways forcing some of the coolest heads in golf to go on tilt momentarily, links golf presents a whole new set of challenges to the players this weekend. "I enjoy this type of golf because it is creative". "You know you're not going to get the most flawless of bounces". A certain shot you think is a wonderful shot down the middle of the fairway could bounce some weird way. That's just part of it. "I think I got to the second round of the matchplay, but it was a lot different conditions to what we're experiencing". It certainly plays into the hands of guys who can thread the ball around.

The 24-year-old and a swathe of his fellow young Americans threatening to dominate the future of the sport will also have a returning Tiger Woods.

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Woods arrived at the Scottish course to the north of Dundee near 3pm Sunday local time accompanied by his caddy, Joe LaCarva and after a 30-minute session on the range he took to the very dry Carnoustie course.

"This course can be played so many ways", Woods said. For the week, Woods hit just a single driver, choosing to play irons off the tees for positioning and wearing out the field with some incredible iron play to the greens. It's true. During a practice round he smoked a 3-iron 333 yards on the 18th hole.

Course management and creativity give Tiger hope that he'll be an Open contender for at least another decade, perhaps longer. Woods recalls 53-year-old Greg Norman playing in the final group at Royal Birkdale in 2008, a major Woods missed because of knee surgery.

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Woods also noted that on the baked-out yellow brick road that was Carnoustie earlier this week, the fairways are running hotter than the greens. But he realizes at some point that his power will drop off. "But links-style golf, you can roll the ball". "That's just the way it goes".

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