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Woods ready for US Open grind

ESPN staff
June 10, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »

Tiger Woods insists that his five-year wait for a 15th major is not preying on his mind as he heads to the US Open at Merion.

The final round of the year's second major falls five years on to the day since Woods lifted one of golf's top four prizes, the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines.

But while the landmark has focused attention on his stalled bid to overhaul Jack Nicklaus' 18 majors, Woods will only start worrying about his prospects of topping the all-time majors list "when I'm 60, and I can't do it anymore."

"I feel very comfortable with where my game is headed," Woods told ESPN. "I can put myself in contention at every major I play in - whether I win or not, who knows - but if you put yourself there enough times, you're going to win a bunch.

"That's what I've done throughout my entire career - I've got 14 of them. I haven't won every one, but I've put myself there a lot.

"I've had my chances over the past five years to win major championships. It's not like I've missed the cut or shot 80 in every round - I've been in there with a chance."

At 6996 yards Merion is the shortest major course of the past nine years, but Woods - whose struggles with his driver since his return from knee surgery after his 2008 triumph are well documented - believes target golf and discipline will be key to victory in Pennsylvania.

"If you look at the list of champions, it's unbelievable," Woods added. "All were great shot-makers, and the guys who were contending in those events are some of the best shot-makers around.

"Merion requires a lot of discipline, where you place the golf ball - especially coming into the greens, whether you're hitting a wedge or a sand wedge. Some pins you just can't go at."

Asked what he loves about the majors, Woods was in no doubt. "The grind. The fight. The fact that you have to grind and stay in it," he said.

"You're never out of it - you're just looking for a nice hot stretch out there, nine holes or so, maybe two nine-hole stretches where you really play well, and the rest of them you're just even keel.

"You don't have to be flashy, you don't have to be hot; you just have to plod along. If you look at past winners of [US] Opens, they're guys that weren't overly long, guys who really understand how to stay calm and how to focus and how to manage themselves under pretty tough conditions."

World Rankings: 1. Tiger Woods (USA), 2. Rory McIlroy (NIR), 3. Adam Scott (AUS), 4. Matt Kuchar (USA), 5. Justin Rose (ENG), 6. Luke Donald (ENG), 7. Brandt Snedeker (USA), 8. Graeme McDowell (NIR), 9. Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), 10. Phil Mickelson (USA), 11. Lee Westwood (ENG), 12. Keegan Bradley (USA), 13. Steve Stricker (USA), 14. Charl Schwartzel (RSA), 15. Sergio Garcia (ESP), 16. Bubba Watson (USA), 17. Ian Poulter (ENG), 18. Webb Simpson (USA), 19. Dustin Johnson (USA), 20. Jason Dufner (USA).

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