Woods trying to find his Open touch at Hoylake
THREE-TIME British Open champion Tiger Woods is looking to be a hit on his return to the venue where he won his last Claret Jug, but he made a different kind of impact in yesterday's practice round.
The 38-year-old spent his second day at Royal Liverpool reacquainting himself with the Hoylake links where he produced an emotional victory in 2006, two months after the death of his father.
During his full 18 holes he was followed by a healthy crowd keen to see the former world number one up close and free from the restraints which kick in when the tournament begins on Thursday.
However, one spectator got more than he bargained for when Woods pulled his approach to the 16th and his ball cannoned off the back on one young man and bounced on to the nearby 17th tee. Woods duly called over to caddy Joe Lacava for a spare ball and duly handed it over with an apology to the unharmed fan.
Other than that the 14-time major winner, preparing for only his second event since undergoing surgery on his back in March, had a relatively uneventful round.
In keeping with the tactic which propelled him to victory on this course eight years ago - when he hit one driver in 72 holes - the American kept the big stick in his bag throughout.
While the course could in no way be said to be anything like the dry, hard-baked links of 2006, it made no difference to his strategy.
Even on the par-five eighth into the wind Woods hit three wood and still sent it out as far as playing partner Matt Kuchar hit his driver.
Frank, Woods' Tiger-themed driver headcover, looks like he is just along for the ride this week.
Many tee shots were with irons as the American, who has not won a major since the 2008 US Open, stuck to his game-plan of avoiding the dangers posed by Hoylake's bunkers.
It is a ploy which will not suit everyone, but fits Woods, often wayward with his drivers, perfectly.
"We play a different game off the tee. My driver is as strong as his three wood," said Kuchar. "It's interesting to see his perspective and you can see him plotting the golf course to ensure you avoid the pot bunkers."