Tiger Woods, once a dead-bang certainty to pass Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors, has been stuck on 14 for a decade now. And while it’s entirely possible — even likely — that he’ll finish his career right there, Woods still believes that he’s got a major victory or two ahead of him … and that the British Open offers the best chance to win.
Why the British Open is Woods’ best chance to win a major
Speaking to the press Tuesday morning, Woods broke down what many golf observers have long speculated: that the British Open offers Woods the best chance to win another major, simply because it doesn’t require the strength that Augusta demands or the brute force necessary to win a U.S. Open. Other older, craftier players have come very close to winning, Woods suggested, so why not him?
“You don’t have to be long (off the tee) to play on a links-style golf course,” Woods said. “Look what Tom [Watson] did at Turnberry at [age] 59, I believe he was [in 2009, when he nearly won the tournament]. So it’s possible. Greg was there at Birkdale, I think about 54-ish, somewhere around there, 53, 54. [Norman was 53 in 2008 and held the lead on the final day before losing to Padraig Harrington.] It certainly can be done.”
Why Woods loves links golf
Woods, ever the gracious guest, praised the links-style golf of Carnoustie and the British Open. “I’ve always loved playing links golf. It’s my favorite type of golf to play,” he said. “I enjoy this type of golf because it is creative. We’re not going to get the most perfect bounces. You know, a certain shot that is hit you think is a wonderful shot down the middle of the fairway could bounce some weird way. That’s just part of it. And I think that’s the fun challenge of it.”
That necessary creativity and course unpredictability both play into Woods’ hands against younger, sharper players. Plus, links courses don’t demand physical perfection the way that other well-known venues do.
“You get to places like Augusta National, where it’s just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately,” he said. “That’s just the way it goes. But links style golf course, you can roll the ball. [Earlier this week] I hit a 3 iron that went down there to 330. Well, even if I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.”
Why Woods’ new perspective is significant
At least publicly, Woods comes into every tournament not just thinking he’ll win, but assuming he will. So this newfound — or newly public — mindset has a touch of significance: he’s recognizing his vulnerability.
Still, there’s a bit of the Woods bravado still there. When asked why he thought the British Open represented his best chance to win his next major, he had a characteristic answer:
“Not to be smart,” he smiled, “but it is the next major I’m playing.”
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