Tiger lurks patiently at British Open

Fourth Open win could put Woods back on top of the world

Tiger Woods is not surprised he can return to the top of the world rankings by winning the British Open and is not feeling impatient because he has not lifted a Major for four years, the American said on Tuesday.

The 14-times Major champion, who has not won one of the big four tournaments since the 2008 U.S. Open, has battled his way back to form and fitness in recent months following personal problems and injuries.

"I just try and put myself there," he told a news conference. "I think that if I continue putting myself there enough times then I'll win major championships."

Woods, 36, said he was happy to be fully fit again.

"First of all I had to go through that whole process of just getting healthy again," he said. "Being banged up and missing major championships because of it in a couple-year stretch there wasn't a whole lot of fun.

"I missed four Majors just because I was injured. I figure if I'm healthy, then I can prepare properly for major championships and I can get myself there."

Woods, world number four, is relishing the prospect of playing the challenging Lytham links course in what are expected to be difficult wet and windy conditions.

"I think that shot-making creativity is paramount when you play a links golf course," he said. "And I think that's something that is taken away in the modern course design.

"Here you have so many different options and a five-degree wind change changes an entire golf course and changes your entire game plan. It's just everything is magnified."

Woods said the decision to hit a draw rather than a fade could make the ball travel up to 50 yards further.

"This is all something you're trying to figure out," he said. "Meanwhile, what trajectory are you going to hit the golf ball at? That's something I've always enjoyed."

Woods has happy memories of Lytham having won the silver medal for being the leading amateur at the 1996 British Open.

"I remember I got hot in that second round," he said. "I think I made seven birdies on an 11-hole stretch or 12-hole stretch there. I think I posted 66 that day and I thought that was a pretty great accomplishment.

"The Open championship that year basically pushed me towards turning pro versus going back to college," he said. "I was still kind of iffy about whether I should turn pro or not.

"But that gave me so much confidence that I could do it at a high level and I could play against the top players in the world on a very difficult track."

Woods said it was paramount to avoid Lytham's 200-plus treacherous bunkers.

"At any links golf course you've got to stay out of the bunkers because you can't get to the green. That's just a fact," he said.

"If you hit the ball in there, it's going to go up against the face, because it goes in there with some steam and you're pitching it out sideways or sometimes even backwards."

Woods is the bookmakers' favourite to claim his fourth British Open but he believes it is harder to win Majors these days, with 15 different winners of the last 15 big four tournaments.

"I think the fields are deeper, there's no doubt," he said.

"We're having to shoot some pretty low scores in general. You need to have a hot week at the right time. That's what it comes down to. There are more guys now have a chance to win Major championships than ever before."
 

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