Tiger Woods is attempting to become the first player in 50 years to win three consecutive British Open titles when the world's best PGA Tour and European PGA Tour players tee off Thursday at Carnoustie Golf Club in Scotland for the year's third major.
Woods, who claimed his second consecutive victory last year with a two-shot win over Chris DiMarco at Royal Liverpool, said that a three-peat would certainly be nice. However, he claims there's a lot of work to be done before the feat can even be a possibility.
"All I know is that I feel good about my preparation so far," Woods said in a press conference Tuesday. "I've got one more day to prepare and we'll see how the tournament builds."
Woods is bidding to be the first to win three straight opens since Peter Thomson (1954-56). Jamie Anderson (1877-79) and Bob Ferguson (1880-82) also won three straight Open titles, while Young Tom Morris owns the record with four consecutive wins (1868-72 -- there was no championship in 1871).
"If I continue doing the things that I'm doing, I like the way I'm swinging, I like the way my short game is (and) I like the way my speed is on the greens so far," Woods said. "I just have to carry that into the tournament."
Woods will play in group 15 along with Paul Lawrie and Justin Rose in the first two rounds. Lawrie, who won the Open in 1999 at Carnoustie, said he isn't concerned about playing in the same group as the world's No. 1-ranked player.
"It doesn't bother me -- I've been doing it a long time (and) I've played with him before," Lawrie told reporters. "There are a lot of distractions playing with him. I'll be looking after my ball and Tiger after his and Justin after his. I don't have any problem with it."
In the last Open at Carnoustie in 1999, Woods tied for seventh with a 10-over-par 294, while Lawrie shot 6 over and won a playoff over Justin Leonard and Jean Van De Velde. Woods, who has three wins and seven top-10 performances in the Open, said he truly enjoys playing links-style courses.
Woods said that from the first moment he was introduced to links golf in the mid-1990s, it was almost an instant love affair.
"It was the first time I could actually use the ground," Woods said. "I grew up on kikuyu grass golf courses and you never would bump and run a golf ball there. I thought it was neat to putt from 40 to 50 yards off the green, hit 5-irons from 135 yards and run the ball because the conditions dictate and it allowed you to do it as well.
"That to me was fun. I immediately just loved it. I just wish that we could play more golf on it, but you only get one time a year, basically."
Ernie Els said he believes that Carnoustie rates among the most difficult courses in the Open rotation.
"It's got length. It's got great bunkering -- you've really got to have your wits with you to play this golf course," Els said. "It's probably the best-bunkered course that you'll ever find anywhere in the world.
"With the weather conditions and the way that the layout is, it's a very demanding layout. You've got to play every shot in the bag. Every links shot you can think of, you get tested here. It's got everything."
Unlike 1999, Woods said he views course conditions this year at Carnoustie as being "extremely fair."
"It's probably a little more difficult than it was in the Scottish Opens I played, so it's roughly right in between," Woods said. "If we have wind like (Tuesday) morning - conditions like that, or any kind of wind on this golf course - it just becomes a lot more difficult than you think.
"You really do have to hit the ball well here. The greens are extremely subtle, just like all links courses, they're hard to read."
• Site: Carnoustie, Scotland
• Schedule: July 19-22
• Course: Carnoustie Golf Club(7,421 yards, par 71)
• Purse: $8.46 million ($1.51 million winner's share)
• TV: TNT (Thursday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. EDT; Saturday, 7-9 a.m. EDT; Sunday, 6-8 a.m. EDT) and ABC (Saturday, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. EDT; Sunday, 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. EDT)
July 18, 2007
With stellar play on the back nine at Royal Birkdale, Padraig Harrington shot a 69 in the final round to earn a four-shot victory and become Europe's first back-to-back British Open champion in more than a century. He earned nearly $1.5 million and climbed to No. 3 in the world rankings. "I'm really thrilled with the way I felt today on the golf course," Harrington said. "I hit the ball as pure as I could and just felt really good."
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