In just over a week, the best in the world will take on Royal Liverpool as the third major championship of the year will kick off across the pond.
For the first time since Tiger Woods brilliantly out-thought Hoylake, this golf course will host the British Open, and Woods will be making his first major championship start of 2014 on this same track. The difference this time around is what we should expect from Tiger.
Back in 2006, Woods was the favorite at every major, winning whenever he got the lead at one of the big four and dominating these championships at such a rate that some thought he could win 25 majors before he retired. Of course, things have changed, and injury has kept Woods from competing at the level he wants at some of the biggest tournaments on the schedule.
That will again be the case next week, and with just one PGA Tour start under his belt following a back surgery that took place in March, a lot of people are counting out Woods' chances at Liverpool, including two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange.
Strange, the captain of the 2002 Ryder Cup team, told Reuters that he thinks Tiger is lying to himself if he says he's headed to Hoylake to win this championship.
"Even before his surgery, and his form was obviously hampered by his physical condition, he wasn't playing well so when you have an operation and you've been out for three months, you're not going to be a better player after doing that.
"If he goes to Hoylake saying, 'I'm here to win and that's the only thing', that would be him telling a lie to himself."
I tend to agree with what Strange is saying about the expectations of both Tiger and us, the people that watch and cover the man. People see the name "Tiger Woods" and think of the way he used to play, but we have to remember that Woods hasn't won a major championship since 2008 and no Claret Jug since that performance at this golf course in '06.
Tiger played some great golf a season ago on the PGA Tour, and despite no major wins, he did dominate at a lot of different golf courses on his way to five wins. But it's a little bit of the same thing there, as this Woods isn't the same guy as he was a season ago. He's had surgery, been away from tournament golf for a while and will need to get in some rounds with the ropes up and the galleries full before he can feel totally comfortable in that type of situation.
When Woods gets to a tournament, winning might be on his mind, but for this week at Royal Liverpool, making the cut, avoiding injury and trying to hone in that short game might be more realistic goals as his golf rehab is still just getting started.
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