The 42-year-old makes his 20th Open Championship start this week at Carnoustie on a dry, baked out course resembling the test Woods mastered to win the last of his three Claret Jugs at Royal Liverpool 12 years ago.
That week in 2006 Woods used a driver only once in 72 holes and the firm conditions this week in Scotland appear likely to dissuade him from resorting to the big stick.
“There’s not a lot of opportunities to hit the driver just because the ball’s going to be rolling 80 yards,” Woods said during his Tuesday press conference.
“It’s just hard to keep the ball in play.”
Asked which of the four majors presents Woods with his best chance to get that elusive 15th major, he cited the near misses of Tom Watson and Greg Norman in 2009 and 2008 respectively as proof that players can compete at the Open well past their prime.
Tiger Woods believes #TheOpen represents his best chance of winning another major.July 17, 2018
“You don’t have to be long to play on a links style golf course. Look what Tom [Watson] did at Turnberry [in 2009] at 59 I believe he was.
“Greg [Norman] was there at Birkdale [in 2008] at 53. It certainly can be done.
“You get to places like Augusta National where it’s just a big ballpark and the golf course outgrows you. Unfortunately it’s just the way it goes but links style golf courses you can roll the ball.
“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. Distance becomes a moot point on links style golf courses.
Woods has been using a strengthened 17-degree driving iron during his practice rounds at Carnoustie but may have to re-add loft to it if the course doesn’t soften up by Thursday’s opening round.
“My normal two-iron’s about 20 degrees. I bent this one down about 17 [degrees] and so I took a few degrees off of it just trying to be able to have the ability to chase one down there.”
Woods will begin his opening round in the sixth-to-last group at 3:21pm local time alongside Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and Scotsman Russell Knox.
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