The Open 2013: Tiger Woods primed for Muirfield challenge

 

The Open Championship

  • Venue: Muirfield
  • Dates: 18-21 July

Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Two & HD, BBC Radio 5 live, Red Button, online, connected TV, mobile app, tablets and other digital platforms; live text commentary on BBC Sport website, mobile devices & app

Tiger Woods is unconcerned by a recent elbow injury as he attempts to win a fourth Open title and first major for five years at Muirfield this week.

The world number one hurt his arm in his Players Championship victory in May and aggravated it at the US Open at Merion last month.

Woods, 37, has not played competitively since to allow time for it to heal but insists "everything is good to go".

"I feel very good about my game," he told a packed news conference.

Woods has won four times this season and said he was still confident of adding to his 14 major titles as he chases Jack Nicklaus's record of 18.

"Even though I haven't won a major in five years I've been in a bunch of them where I've had chances. I just need to keep putting myself there and eventually I'll get some," said the American.

Woods, who won his last Open at Hoylake in 2006, was tied third at Royal Lytham last year.

Last three Open winners

  • 2012: Ernie Els
  • 2011: Darren Clarke
  • 2010: Louis Oosthuizen

He was in contention during the second round of this year's Masters at Augusta before his approach to the 15th hit the pin and bounced back into the water. He made a bogey six and was then penalised two shots for an illegal drop, finishing in a tie for fourth.

He slumped to a share of 32nd at Merion after struggling with his elbow in the thick rough.

Since his last major victory, the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines, Woods has played in 16 majors and finished inside the top six eight times.

"It's just a shot here, a shot there," he added. "It's making a key up-and-down here or getting a good bounce there.

"For instance, this year at Augusta I really played well and a good shot ended up having a bad break. It's not much. It could happen on the first day or the last day. But it's turning that tide or capitalising on an opportunity. That's what you have to do to win major championships."

Woods was bidding for the third leg of a Grand Slam - after winning that year's Masters and US Open - when the Open was last held at Muirfield in 2002, but a severe storm on the Saturday blew him off course with an 81.

Woods at the Open

  • Made his debut as a 19-year-old amateur in 1995, finishing in a tie for 68th place
  • Finished third in 1998, before taking his first title at St Andrews in 2000
  • Wins again at St Andrews in 2005, before taking his third trophy a year later at Hoylake

This year the hot, dry conditions and favourable forecast could make Muirfield play similar to Hoylake, when Woods hit only one driver all week as he negotiated his way around the fast-running links with irons.

"It's playing really fast out there," he said. "The golf course is set up perfectly. I'm looking forward to a fantastic championship at one of the best venues."

Woods refused to be drawn into the debate on Muirfield's male-only membership policy and the R&A's decision to use the club to host the Open.

"I don't make the policies here. I'm not a member, so I'm not going to speak for the club," he said.

Woods did tangle with management when he was prevented from practising before 07:00 BST on Monday. Woods's preference is to go out very early and practise with few people watching, but he says he understands the reasons why he was stopped.

"Peter [Dawson, R&A chief] was explaining that he's having the grounds crew cut it from number one through 18 as a routine to get them accustomed to that pattern for the championship. I totally understand that," said Woods.