Tiger Woods has not won a major in four years, has been schizophrenic this season and still is an 8-1 Las Vegas favorite to win the British Open that begins Thursday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
For Woods, the expectations are not what matters. It’s about how he plays, and this course is a not easy. There are 205 bunkers , making position off the tee critical. It also has the Open’s most exclusive list of winners — all nine are either in the Hall of Fame or were ranked No.1 in the world at some time.
“This is one of the more difficult ones that we play,” Woods said of the nine courses used in the Open Championship rotation. “It’s more confined, but I think that as far as shot making, it tests us. It tests us a lot, because we have to shape the golf ball both ways.
“It’s not like playing Troon (in Scotland) where you have right-to-left (shots) going out and left-to-right coming home. Here you have a lot of different angles. And it tests your ability to hit shots and hit them the proper distances, more so than most links courses.”
Woods said he would not be able to employ that same strategy that helped him to his last Open victory, at Royal Liverpool in 2006. There, Woods hit just one driver off the tee, keeping his ball in play on the fast-running course, positioning himself away from the numerous pot bunkers.
At the rate his going, with a four-year drought of majors, Woods will try any tactics to get back on top. After winning three times this year but also looking scattered in others, Woods, who has 14 majors, said he has no anxiety about not winning another major.
“No, no. I just try and put myself there,” Woods said Tuesday morning after his third practice round at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. “I think that if I continue putting myself there enough times, then I’ll win major championships.”
Even tour pros are not sure what Woods will show up this week.
“If Tiger’s instincts are his new swing now and he has ownership of his new swing, then his instincts are going to be an advantage,” ESPN’s Paul Azinger said. “If his instincts are to revert back, he’ll be all over the place.”
Said Curtis Strange, ESPN analyst: “If he’s playing well, he’s better than everybody else in the field,” said ESPN analyst Curtis Strange, twice a U.S. Open champion. “If he’s not, he’s average. It just depends on which Tiger shows up. And we of late have seen two different Tigers.”