Sports

Woods confident he can still win a Major

Fit-again Woods says he still knows how to win a Major

Tiger Woods' back operation in March robbed the former world No. 1 of a quarter of the golf season, but at least it has given him a fresh outlook on his career.

The 14-time Major champion will be making his second competitive appearance in four months at this week's British Open, and he is just happy to be back at the venue of his memorable 2006 victory at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake.

"With this particular injury with my back, I didn't want to do anything," said Woods yesterday.

"I couldn't get out of bed and I couldn't move around the house.

"That made me appreciate just how fortunate I was to be able to play at that high level for the better part of 17 years. It made me appreciate that a lot more."

Woods famously won the 2008 US Open, the most recent of his Major triumphs, virtually on one leg due to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) problems that eventually led to surgery.

"When I had no ACL and my leg was pretty trashed, I could actually still go out there and play," explained the 38-year-old American.

"I couldn't do that with this back injury. "I couldn't actually enjoy my life...the daily things of just moving around. It wasn't a whole lot of fun."

Woods missed the cut on his comeback at the Quicken Loans National event in Maryland last month, but he is delighted just to be pain-free these days.

"The people who have had my surgery, they've all said the same thing. It changes your whole life, it just takes away all the pain," said the world No. 7.

"Yeah, you're sore from the incision, but you don't have that radiating pain that goes down the leg.

"Once that was removed, even though I was hurting from the surgery, I knew I could come back and play.

"It was just a matter of time before I got out here and was able to play at elite level again.

"Once I went through the procedure, and I was just sitting in the recovery room and I didn't have that pain any more, it was a lot of relief."

Former US Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange said earlier this month that Woods had to limit his ambitions at Hoylake because of his limited playing time since surgery.

TRIUMPH

Golf's great drawcard, however, said he had proved in the past how he can triumph in the face of adversity.

"I've been in circumstances like this before," Woods added. "In 2008, I had surgery after the US Masters at Augusta. The Sunday before the US Open, I didn't break 50 for nine holes and still I was able to win it in a play-off (with Rocco Mediate) with one ACL and a broken leg.

"I've proven I can do it. It's just a matter of giving myself the best chances this week, to miss in the correct spots, to be aggressive when I can, and obviously to hole putts.

"That's a recipe you find for every Major championship."

Woods's golfing mentor, his father Earl, died in the months leading up to the Hoylake event in 2006, and he said his tear-stained victory that week was extra special.

"That was a very emotional week," he said. "I pressed pretty hard at Augusta that year because it was the last time my dad was ever going to see me play in a Major championship.

"I came here and just felt at peace. On Sunday, I felt real calm out there. It was surreal at the time. I felt my dad was with me in that round," said Woods.

"I said it back then in 2006 that it was like having a 15th club in the bag." - Reuters.


I’ve proven I can do it. It’s just a matter of giving myself the best chances this week, to miss in the correct spots, to be aggressive when I can, and obviously to hole putts.

— World No. 7 Tiger Woods

McIlroy eyes Open glory

HOPEFUL: Rory McIlroy aims to tackle his tendency to struggle on Fridays in tournaments. PHOTO: REUTERS

Rory McIlroy believes the time is ripe for him this week at Royal Liverpool to finally play his best golf for the full four rounds at the British Open, after six years of frustration.

The 25-year-old Northern Irishman already has two Major wins under his belt - the 2011 US Open and the 2012 PGA Championship - but success at the two most vaunted Majors - the US Masters and the British Open - has remained elusive.

In the latter, he has only a tied-for-third to his credit at St Andrews in 2010, and his other performances were way below par, something McIlroy is fully aware of.

"The Open Championship is a tournament that's very important to me. And my record in it hasn't been as good as I'd like. I'd love to improve on that," said McIlroy yesterday.

SPECIAL

"It would be very special. I remember growing up watching The Open on TV and watching (Nick) Faldo win.

"Watching a lot of The Opens growing up, and even going to a couple of them to watch when I was a kid - it's special.

"It's the only one played outside of the States, as well. And it's played on links. It's the oldest, and probably has the richest history of all of them.

"It would be great to put my name on the Claret Jug one day. If I was to win my third Major here, it would be the third leg of a career Grand Slam as well. Not many golfers have done that, either.

"So it would be special. It would be very important. Hopefully by the time I hang up my boots, I'd love to be able to get my name on that trophy."

To win his first Open title, McIlroy will have to kick an annoying habit - starting well and then struggling on Friday - a problem he is aware of and determined to set right.

"That's one that I'd like to try to stop this week," he said.

"I may be putting a bit too much pressure on myself, going out on Fridays and trying to back up a score.

"I have no problem shooting a low one on Thursday, there should be no reason I have any problem shooting a low one on Friday.

"I think I just got into my head. It's something that I need to go out and pretend like it's a Thursday again."

McIlroy will tee off tomorrow alongside Hideki Matsuyama of Japan and Jordan Spieth of the United States. - AFP.

Poulter fit to play in British Open

Europe's Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter has received the all-clear on his damaged wrist, and will compete in this week's British Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.

The 38-year-old Englishman underwent an MRI scan in Leeds on Monday after being hurt in the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen last week.

"Great news with the wrist," Poulter said on his official Twitter account yesterday.

"On impact I've jarred it and an old ganglion cyst has shown itself.

"No tendon damage. Painkillers and crack on."

Poulter jarred his wrist on the 14th and 18th holes at Royal Aberdeen.

He missed the cut at the British Open warm-up event after rounds of 73 and 74 left him on 147, five over par. - Reuters.