In two weeks from this Thursday, the British Open will kick off, and for the first time this year, Tiger Woods will be in attendance at a major championship. Woods returned to competitive golf last week when he teed it up at the Quicken Loans National, and after rounds of 74-75, Woods went trunk-slamming despite some signs of life from the No. 5 ranked player in the world.
So if that is how Tiger played then, what is he expecting to contend at Royal Liverpool with no tournaments between his start at Congressional and his return to Hoylake? Here are five reasons Woods should shake up his normal major prep and add the Scottish Open.
His current game isn't major-ready — Tiger didn't look terrible last week at Congressional, having some great stretches including an important birdie run to close out his round on Thursday that kept him from completely shooting himself out of the tournament after the opening round.
But the game he had at Congo isn't winning any majors. Heck, it isn't making the cut at majors. Tiger Woods might have his name to lean on and his major championship resume to boast, but that was then and this is now, with experts and fans alike not really knowing what game Tiger will take with him when he crosses the pond.
Playing and practicing in Florida isn't helping your case for a run at another Claret Jug, and isn't that the only thing Woods has preached his entire career? He wants to win majors, and I truly believe that he circled this British Open on his calender as the tournament he wanted to be competitive at when he decided on a date for his back surgery, but that won't be the case if he goes in cold turkey.
Tiger needs another couple of rounds of competitive golf, inside the ropes alongside other pros trying to win the same golf tournament, and that is the only thing that will really get him ready for a major championship.
Royal Aberdeen is a great warm-up for Royal Liverpool — I had the opportunity to play Royal Aberdeen a couple of years back, and this place is links golf to the core (so much so that the starter actually told me and my dad not to get lost as we make the turn because the 9th hole runs into another golf course that also looks pretty links-y).
It's a great test for the players competing in the Scottish Open, and will be a really solid golf course to prepare oneself for Hoylake. This is a place that Tiger will be able to hit that stinger off tees, work on his short game around the greens and get acclimated to the conditions of links golf.
On top of that, Aberdeen is just a tremendous 18 holes of championship golf, and would be great for anyone that is hoping to get a feel for the way links golf is played, and if nothing else, working on your game across the pond on those tight lies and sandy fairways has to be better practice than sitting on your back porch in Florida hitting flop shots to a green that holds.
Change can be good — Tiger Woods is not a man that likes to play golf the week before major championships. He has never played the week before the Masters, the U.S. Open or the British Open, taking the week off to do his thing and get himself in the right mindset to play four rounds on the biggest stages in this sport.
That said, this formula isn't fail-proof. Tiger has had plenty of starts at majors that have ended in disappointment, and while following your routine is important, changing it up can sometimes trigger something new and different that can help you out in a positive way.
Playing the week before the British Open didn't hurt Phil Mickelson a year ago, and I don't see any negatives for Tiger Woods if his main focus is winning this British Open. If people are worried about fatigure from the starts following the British, that's fine, but the only thing we judge Tiger on these days is No. 15, so being mentally ready for Firestone just doesn't hold the same weight as getting your game as ready as you can for a British Open held on a golf course you won at the last time this tournament was held there.
It shows the world you think you're ready — If nothing else, a start at the Scottish Open helps show the world that you didn't just come back to improve ratings and buzz for your own golf tournament. Tiger admitted that his return for the Quicken Loans had a lot to do with his foundation being attached, but shaking up your schedule to get 100 percent prepared for the next major shows that you're serious about this, and that you really think a few more rounds could get you in that right place to compete.
Woods' golf game is not there right now, but even two rounds at Aberdeen, where all the shots count and your buddies aren't giving you that two-footer can help get you a step closer to being totally back.
That is the goal for Tiger, and this is a good way to prove to the world that you aren't just coming back for a moral victory.
It would bring the world back to golf — Sadly, only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson force the sports world to focus on golf, and with the World Cup soon wrapping and Wimbledon ending on Sunday, the top headline on sports websites are up for grabs.
Woods can return for the Scottish Open and make it must see TV, and with the dog days of summer fast approaching that would be very, very good for a sport that has been missing a lot of intriguing story-lines for most of '14.
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