Golf

/ News

  • Open Championship

Woods: Anything but victory is unacceptable

Alex Perry at Royal Liverpool
July 15, 2014 « Suarez not a Barcelona team player - Cruyff | Rashid's burst takes Yorkshire top »
Tiger Woods was in good spirits in his news conference ahead of the Open Championship © Getty Images
Enlarge

Despite playing just two competitive rounds since March, Tiger Woods says he has no interest in finishing anywhere but top of the leaderboard at this week's Open Championship.

Woods underwent back surgery in March and made a brief return at Congressional last month, where he missed the cut by four shots - just his 11th missed cut since turning professional in 1996.

22 years of hurt

Sir Nick Faldo was England's last Open champion in 1992 © PA Photos
  • It's been more than two decades since an Englishman won the Open Championship, so Alex Perry looks at three players who could end that hoodoo in Hoylake.
  • Click here for more

But the 14-time major champion, whose last Open victory came here at Royal Liverpool eight years ago, will begin his week alongside Henrik Stenson and Angel Cabrera with exactly the same goal as he always does.

Woods was asked what an acceptable finish on Sunday would be, given his limited playing time and fitness issues. His reply was typically deadpan.

"First."

He added: "Anything less than that is unacceptable. That's always been the case.

"I've been in circumstances like this before. If you remember in '08 I had knee surgery right after the Masters and I won a US Open. I didn't play more than nine holes and the Sunday before the US Open I didn't break 50 for nine holes and still was able to win it in a play-off, with an ACL [injury] and a broken leg.

"I've proven I can do it, it's just a matter of putting my game and giving myself the best chances this week to miss the ball in the correct spots, to be aggressive when I can, and obviously to hole putts. That's a recipe you find for every major championship, but I've just got to do it this week."

Despite glimpses of the fiery persona we have come familiar with over the years, Woods, who has dropped from world No.1 to No.7 in his time out, was in good spirits.

He also revealed he has been at Royal Liverpool since Saturday to get an extra day of practice in because "it gets harder every year" to win a major championship.

He added: "The fields get deeper and there are more guys with a chance to win - and we recently had a stretch of 16, 17 straight first-time winners.

"It means the margin is so much smaller and it's only going to continue to be the case. Guys are going to get longer, they're going to get faster.

"They're getting stronger and more athletic. When I first came out here in '97, I averaged somewhere just under 300 yards, 296 or something like that. I walked around with Gary Woodland on Sunday and he said, 'Yeah, I finally found a driver and a ball I can hit 320 again in the air.' In the air! So the game has changed a lot since then."

Woods' victory in 2006 was one of the most poignant of his 14, the first after his father, Earl, passed away.

"My life has certainly changed a lot since then," he said, suddenly more sombre. "That was a very emotional week. I pressed pretty hard at Augusta that year, trying to win it, because it was the last time my dad was ever going to see me play a major championship.

"And then I didn't play well at the US Open, missed the cut there miserably, and then came here and just felt at peace. I really, really played well. On Sunday I really felt calm out there. It was surreal at the time. I've had a few moments like that in majors where I've felt that way on a Sunday. And that was certainly one of them."

When pushed for a reason behind the serenity of his 2006 victory, he added: "If I knew I'd do it all the time. But it just happens."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Close