Carnoustie practice stirs memories of Tiger's British Open triumphs

by Bernie MCGUIRE
US golfer Tiger Woods said practicing for the British Open in Carnoustie, Scotland, reminds him of past triumphs St Andrews and Royal Liverpool

Tiger Woods played a first British Open practice round in three years at Carnoustie on Sunday and said the Scottish course is playing like St Andrews when he won in 2000 and Royal Liverpool where he captured a third Claret Jug six years later.

Woods played just eight holes, the first to fourth, and then crossed to the 15th to play the closing four holes.

This year's British Open, the only one of golf's four majors played outside the United States, starts at Carnoustie on Thursday.

It will be the first time the 42-year-old Woods, a 14-time major champion whose career has been blighted by injuries in recent years, has contested the tournament since missing the cut in the 2015 edition at St Andrews, while it will be the fourth occasion he has teed-up in a Carnoustie Open.

The American finished tied for seventh behind Scotland's Paul Lawrie at Carnoustie in 1999 and shared 12th place in 2007 when Ireland's Padraig Harrington also won in a play-off.

"I have missed playing in The Open a lot because it is our oldest tournament and coming here to Carnoustie is just special," Woods told reporters.

"It's right in front of you. It's hard and probably the most difficult one we play in the whole Open rotation.

"Right now, the fairways are faster than the greens, so I am sure it will be one of those weeks where the fairways will be a little quicker than the greens."

- 'Risk and reward' -

In the eight holes Woods, one of the greatest golfers of all-time, played on Sunday, he used the driver just once.

"A key off the tees is how hot do you want the ball landing on the fairways?," explained Woods.

"You can make the ball roll a further 60, 70 or 80 yards but the question is whether it is worth it or not.

"On some of the holes you can fly the bunkers and again, it is one of those risk and reward golf courses given the way it is set-up right now as the fairways are going to play awfully narrow as it is playing so fast."

Meanwhile Woods said the fact he would be playing in his 20th British Open, a tournament traditionally staged on links or coastal courses, would offset his absence from recent editions.

"No, no I don't have to relearn how to play this style of golf because I have played in so many Opens and so many links courses over my career," he said.

"You don't get the chance to see Open venues this brown so often but then it was just like this in 2000 and also at Hoylake, as well."

"So, in saying that it will be a lot of fun," he insisted. "It is going to be a week where the course will be quick and we are going to have to deal with it."

Woods is returning to competition some three weeks after sharing fourth place in hosting the Quicken Loans National and admitting he has "work to do" over the next three days of official practice if he is to end a five-year winless drought.

"My game is still thoroughly in development and I only played eight holes today (Sunday), so I have a lot of work to do the next few days," he said.

"The easiest thing about playing this style of golf is that it is right in front of you and there also is not a lot of blind shots and only a couple here. But part of the hardest thing in coming over here is the turf and how tight it is and how hard it can be.

"What people don't realise from watching on TV is the difference in landing your ball on a downslope compared to playing into an upslope and how many yards that can mean in a shot."

US golfer Tiger Woods said practicing for the British Open in Carnoustie, Scotland, reminds him of past triumphs St Andrews and Royal Liverpool