Tiger needs plenty of work before British Open

Jim Slater
US golfer Tiger Woods swings from the rough during the second round of the National at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, on June 27, 2014
US golfer Tiger Woods swings from the rough during the second round of the National at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, on June 27, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

Bethesda (United States) (AFP) - Tiger Woods has a lot of work ahead in order to contend in July's British Open after missing the cut in his comeback event following a three-month layoff.

Spraying tee shots into trees and beyond cart paths, struggling with his short game and inconsistent with his putter, Woods crashed out of the PGA National with rounds of 74 and 75 at Congressional Country Club, missing only his 10th cut in 299 career events.

"I made so many little mistakes, which was something that I can rectify and get that fixed for the British," Woods said.

"I made a ton of simple little mistakes -- misjudging things and missing the ball on the wrong sides and just didn't get up-and-down. Those are the little things I can correct, which is nice."

While trying to play down his woeful shotmaking, Woods wanted to dwell on the positives from his first event since back surgery March 31 to relieve a pinched nerve.

Woods was healthy and showed he could handle the pressure of back-to-back rounds and eased his own worries about whether he would have explosiveness off the tee.

"What I was able to do physically, the speed I had and distance that I was hitting the golf ball again, I had not done that in a very long time," Woods said.

"The one thing that I was worried about the most was going out there and hitting driver full out. I had not hit it in competitive speed and it was fantastic. I let it go and it was no problems at all.

"The fact that I was able to hit it that hard was very encouraging, and not to have any setbacks at all was nice."

A key for the next few weeks will be hitting them accurately as well as long.

Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the record 18 won by Jack Nicklaus, has not won a major since the 2008 US Open.

He hopes to be a contender at the 143rd British Open, which starts July 17 at Royal Liverpool, the Hoylake layout where he lifted the Claret Jug in 2006.

And just three weeks later will be the final major tournament of the year, the PGA Championship at Valhalla, where Woods won the PGA crown in 2000.

Woods had not played a competitive round since March 9, when his back was in such pain that he struggled to lift the ball out of the cup over his final holes.

"The back is in the past," Woods said. "I had no setbacks. No pain. I'm sore in other parts of my body, and that's just (because) I had not exploded like that in a while. So certain parts of my body are feeling it. But definitely not my back."

- Short game off -

The short game Woods had worked on most during his rehabilitation was poor, a fact Woods blamed on grass differences.

"The short game was off," Woods said. "I've been practicing on Bermuda grass, and I grew the grass up at my house but come out here and play rye. It's totally different and it showed.

"I was off. I probably should have spent more time chipping over on the chipping green than I did, but that's the way it goes."

Woods has not played four healthy rounds at a US PGA event this year, much less contended for a win.

"I needed to get back into competitive feel, just to hit shots and shake some stuff off and see how things work," Woods said. "The way I was physically before the surgery, it wasn't very fun to come out and try and play."

Hoylake might not offer much fun, either. Instead of the hot, dry conditions that prevailed in 2006, the rough is lush this year.

"That's very different than what we played it," Woods said. "So we'll see what happens when we get there."