Tiger Woods plays first practice round at Royal Portrush, defends long break ahead of British Open

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/pga/players/147/" data-ylk="slk:Tiger Woods">Tiger Woods</a> will be back in action this week at The Open Championship, his first competitive round since the U.S. Open last month. (AP/Peter Morrison)
Tiger Woods will be back in action this week at The Open Championship, his first competitive round since the U.S. Open last month. (AP/Peter Morrison)

Tiger Woods hit the course at Royal Portrush on Sunday for his first practice round ahead of The Open Championship this week, which will mark his first appearance on the PGA Tour since last month’s U.S. Open.

That routine, while a bit unusual, has become habit for Woods this season. He jumped from the Masters in April straight to the PGA Championship the next month without playing in an event in between.

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But after the myriad health problems Woods has faced in recent years, he didn’t think twice about jumping right from Pebble Beach to Northern Ireland.

“The breaks are always great for my golf,” Woods said Sunday, via Golfweek. “I told you guys last year that I wasn't going to play as much this year, and it's going to turn out that way.”

Woods’ family vacation to Thailand

Woods didn’t touch a club for 15 days after the U.S. Open, where he finished in a tie for 21st.

Instead, he jetted off to Thailand for a family vacation with his mom, Tida, his girlfriend and two children. The group explored Tida’s homeland for two weeks, something Woods was extremely excited about.

“We had the greatest time,” Woods said, via Golfweek. “It was an amazing experience. Especially since my mom ... her health has been diminishing and we didn't know if she could do this too many times in the future.

“It was pretty cool for (my children) to experience the culture, especially at such a young age. From being over there so many times, I knew the culture, I was raised in it. The only thing I didn't try was the spicy food, which is not happening again.”

Once he returned to the United States and started practicing again, Woods said he simply stuck to his normal routine.

“I do the same thing,” he said, via Golfweek. “I start from the green back. I putt, chip, pitch, short irons, mid-irons, long irons, woods. And then eventually play. Nothing has changed. The only difference is that there are certain days I can do a little more than others.”

Settling in at Royal Portrush

Woods will hit the links each day this week before he officially tees off on Thursday in his quest for a fourth Claret Jug — and his 82nd career win, which would tie the PGA Tour record.

The course, which sits along the northern coast of the country along the Atlantic Ocean and hasn’t played host to The Open Championship since 1951, will certainly cause plenty of players trouble this week — something Woods was hoping to get ahead of.

And with the varying winds, it’ll take more than a single round to figure it out.

“A lot of movement,” Woods said about his initial reaction of the course, via Golfweek. “A lot of decisions off the tees, with all the angles. Now, with the wind switching coming out of the south in the future, a lot of these shots we hit today are useless.

“So we're trying to figure out what lines to take on and what lines not to take on. And these green complexes are so complicated, you have to miss in the right spot.”

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