CARNOUSTIE (Scotland) • Tiger Woods believes the British Open represents his best chance of winning another Major championship, and with some "cleaner golf" this might be the week he breaks his decade-plus Major drought.
Speaking at Carnoustie yesterday, two days before the championship's first round, he said the Open puts less emphasis on power, a good thing for a golfer entering middle age.
"You don't have to be long to play at a links course," said the 42-year-old, whose swing speed is still among the fastest on Tour, despite his creeping age and multiple back surgeries. "As far as the long term, certainly I would say yes (it offers the best chance of winning another Major)."
But he knows keeping up with the young guns is getting harder.
"The guys who have done well have been wonderful feel players and also wonderful lag putters," he said, citing Tom Watson, who nearly won the Open at 59 in 2009, and Greg Norman, who contended at Birkdale the year before, at 53.
"It (winning in your 50s) certainly can be done. You get to places like Augusta National (site of the Masters) and it's just a big ballpark and the course outgrows you, unfortunately. But links-style golf you can roll the ball, so distance becomes a moot point. Creativity plays such an important role."
Woods will use a new two-iron this week to plot his way around Carnoustie, which remains rock-hard and parched.
The Open will be his 12th tournament of the year in his comeback from spinal fusion 15 months ago. He has contended a handful of times, most recently three weeks ago at the National outside Washington, where he finished fourth, albeit against a fairly weak field.
So is this the week he could secure his 15th Major title?
"Each tournament I keep feeling a little bit better because I'm starting to play some golf again," said the former world No. 1. "I've put myself up there in contention a couple of times. (I) just need to lay some cleaner golf, and who knows?"
Defending champion Jordan Spieth is also looking to return to winning ways. The 24-year-old has not won since his Open success last July but he believes his game is back in place for the rigours of Carnoustie.
"I had the itch to get back to it after a couple of weeks of not really working and it was nice to kind of start from scratch," he said.
"I feel like I'm in a position now with every part of my game, I attacked the places that really needed some strong work. That combination with an Open Championship, the way it needs to be played, I think, is a really good spot for me to kick back into shape."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS