Sport 7 reasons Open Championship is Tiger's best chance at winning another major

20:25  12 july  2018
20:25  12 july  2018 Source:   golfdigest.com

British Open 2018: Why this event is Tiger Woods' best chance at major No. 15

  British Open 2018: Why this event is Tiger Woods' best chance at major No. 15 If Big Cat is going to win another major championship, it will come at an Open ChampionshipWoods does not have a top 10 at a major championship since July 2013 when he finished T6 at Muirfield as Phil Mickelson played one of the great rounds of his life and went on to win. In fact, since finishing up the 2011 Masters, Woods has just three top 10s at majors overall with two of them have coming at The Open Championship. David Toms has as many top 10s at majors in that stretch.

Tiger Woods is searching for a win . More, he' s searching for another major . And he had a similar number of top-five finishes in all the majors , posting a total of 30, with 10 coming at the Masters, seven at the U. S . Open , six at The Open and seven at the PGA Championship .

Since Tiger Woods' last period of dominance on the PGA Tour, 2005 to 2009, the competition has gotten quite a bit better . Looking at Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy: This trio of golfers has won five of the last eight major championships .

Tiger Woods' winless drought in major championships has officially passed the decade mark, something unfathomable even five years ago when Woods resumed the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking during his most recent PGA Tour Player of the Year campaign.

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It' s over to you now, Tiger ! Woods has his best chance to get back on the slam trail. The last time Oak Hill staged a major , Shaun Micheel won the US PGA to follow Mike Weir (Masters), Jim Furyk (US Open ) and Ben Curtis ( Open ), and complete the year golf almost died of apathy.

Now 42 and having spent much of the time between that epic playoff victory at the 2008 U.S. Open battling injuries, there's a distinct possibility Woods will finish his career with the 14 major titles he claimed by 32. But based on the golf he's displayed during his latest comeback, Tiger certainly has the potential to win another major (That's an actual major and not some big-money, made-for-TV match against Phil Mickelson). And his best chances to accomplish this will come at the Open Championship. Here are seven reasons why.

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1. Tiger’s love of links golf: Every year golfers at the Open Championship wax poetic about their love of links golf. For many, it’s simply lip service, but not for Tiger, who genuinely enjoys the different challenges presented at golf's oldest major. Read these comments transcribed from *Chronicles of a Champion Golfer":

Daly withdraws from the Open due to knee injury

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On CBS Sports HQ, Kyle Porter joins Nick Kostos to analyze Tiger Woods chances to win another major championship in his storied career.

Open settings. If he wins Sunday, it would be his first major championship in nearly 10 years, and, at 42, he would become the fourth oldest Masters champion ever It has always been a fact that if Tiger leaves Augusta without a Masters win , his best chance to win a major for that year is now gone.

With all that extra strategy, tournament links golf on historic courses is golf nerd heaven. And with all due respect to Bryson DeChambeau, there's no bigger golf nerd than Tiger Woods. It's no wonder he's hoisted the claret jug three times by the time he was 30.

2. The weather conditions: "Let Mother Nature dictate it and then you have to try and figure it out," Woods says in that above passage. Part of liking links golf is embracing — truly embracing and not just lying to yourself that you're having fun in freezing, sideways rain — the ever-changing weather conditions that are thrown at you and Woods seems to do that as much as anyone.

OK, so he's certainly not impervious to bad weather as that photo from Muirfield in 2002 shows. But Woods is particularly adept at and fond of playing in the wind. Two words: "Stinger" and "Traj." OK, well one word and one abbrev. Speaking of hitting irons off the tee. . .

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“ Tiger Woods — back!” came the cry from a fan near the ninth green. Woods, fresh off a tie for second at the Valspar Championship , was making his first start in this tournament since he won for the eighth time here in 2013.

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3. The course conditions: Whereas Woods could overpower PGA Tour venues — and even St. Andrews — in his prime with driver (even a wild driver), that's not usually the case at the Open where bomb-and-gouge style isn't recommended. The extra bounce and roll from the firm and fast seaside turf takes driver out of play on a number of holes, and allows tour pros to take it out completely if they so choose. That's exactly what Woods did during his memorable win at Hoylake in 2006, the last of his three Open triumphs. Tiger hit the big dog just once the entire week, relying on impeccable iron play, including a holed 4-iron from 200 yards during the second round.

The guy was so confident in his iron game he was routinely and purposely leaving himself 200 yards in on normal-length par 4s! And considering he ranks third on the PGA Tour in strokes gained/approach this season, he's not too far off from that form. Plus, as fun as Tiger's famed "stinger" off the tee is to watch, it's also quite effective. And in no tournament does it come in more handy for all the reasons we've already mentioned (firm conditions, wind, strategy!) than at the Open.

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Tiger has not won a major championship since 2008, when he famously won the U. S . But it’ s time we face the reality: Tiger not likely to ever win another major . Want to bet against it? With each passing year, his chances of winning a major diminish.

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4. The greens: Tiger Woods’ putting this season has been, well, to be kind, NOT vintage. But greens at the Open have long helped golfers mask their putting problems. The slower, flatter surfaces free players up to be more aggressive because they don't have to worry about as many stressful comebackers — stressful comebackers that worse putters are more likely to miss. This is the reason the Open was long thought to be where Sergio Garcia would win his maiden major. And while he may have finally (surprisingly) achieved that at Augusta National, which arguably has pro golf's slickest putting surfaces, the Open's slow greens are a big reason why he has 10 top 10s — one more than even Tiger — in the event.

Woods' recent benching of the Scotty Cameron putter that won him 13 of his 14 majors reeks of desperation, but a switch to a TaylorMade mallet worked out well at the Quicken Loans National (above), and the mallet style is generally considered to give golfers an edge with the longer lag putts so often faced at the Open. Many will argue the Masters is Woods' best chance at winning another major, but that claim is based more on Tiger's wealth of local knowledge at Augusta through all those reps (Another one of his fave abbrevs) and the course's lack of rough. When it comes to claiming another green jacket, those greens Gary McCord once joked were "bikini-waxed" aren't doing Woods any favors.

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5. Older golfers fare well: The combination of all the factors we've talked about so far has made the claret jug the major trophy most attainable by aging tour pros. As our Joel Beall noted in a great piece last year, over the past quarter century, a golfer 38 or older is three times as likely to win the Open as he is any other major. A golfer 40 or older is four times as likely. And the five oldest winners in the past 28 majors — Henrik Stenson (40), Mickelson (43), Darren Clarke (43), Ernie Els (42) and Zach Johnson (39) -- all were victorious at the Open. That doesn't include a 53-year-old Greg Norman leading through three rounds in 2008 or a 59-year-old Tom Watson nearly claiming a sixth Open the following year. FIFTY-NINE! Just look at how old he was!

In other words, a win by a 42-year-old Woods (or an even slightly older version) wouldn't be an outlier, but rather follow that trend.

6. Tiger is not your typical older golfer: The most surprising aspect of Woods' latest comeback — this time, from a fourth back surgery — has been his pop. Tiger has more than hung with the young whippersnappers off the tee, registering some of the fastest swing (he's still averaging more than 120 miles per hour) and ball speeds on the PGA Tour this season. He's a physical specimen who is still in peak club twirling form!

So while Woods will be helped by his vast experience at this and future Opens, another victory in the event won't be all on guile and guts. To reiterate, despite having two vertebrae in his back FUSED TOGETHER, he's still able to move it with the best of them from all scenarios, including that wispy Scottish fescue. The man is a marvel of modern medicine. And if he remains healthy (Yes, a pretty big "if"), Tiger should have plenty more cracks at the claret jug. Again, if Old Tom Watson came that close to winning despite having your grandfather's swing speed, Old Tiger Woods is capable of finishing the job.

The Open my best chance to add to majors haul, says Woods

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7. Tiger's close calls: Woods hasn't won a major championship in more than 10 years, but that doesn't mean he hasn't had chances. And arguably his two best came at back-to-back Opens in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, Woods began the final round at Royal Lytham five shots behind 54-hole leader Adam Scott and one shot behind eventual winner Ernie Els. He wound up finishing four shots behind Els, but three of those were given away when he ended up in this unfortunate spot on the sixth hole:

And as the World No. 1 at Muirfield in 2013, Tiger teed off in the penultimate group on Sunday just two shots behind 54-hole leader Lee Westwood and three shots ahead of eventual winner Phil Mickelson. He never got it going though, three-putting the first hole for bogey, shooting 74 and falling to T-6. Tiger only played one more major as the top-ranked player and he hasn't had a top 10 in one of golf's four biggest events since.

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So what does it all mean for Tiger's prospects this year? Woods has a solid track record at Carnoustie (T-7 in 1999 and T-12 in 2007) and he's arriving in Scotland off a T-4 at the Quicken Loans National, his third top 5 in 11 starts in 2018. And based on the lack of rain the UK has received of late, Tiger is licking his chops at facing a course where players will be forced to factor in the ground game. NBC/Golf Channel's David Feherty said Wednesday of Gullane, the site of this week's Scottish Open, "the golf course is as burnt a links course as I've seen for a long time, maybe since '89, The Open at Royal Troon." Sounds fun!

So you can bet Carnoustie will play, firm, fast, and as always, difficult. And you can bet on Tiger at 20-to-1 odds. Considering all we just discussed, that's not a bad value. . .

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For Tiger Woods, many introductions are in order .
Tiger Woods finished the Quicken Loans National with a 66 and was on his way to discuss his performance with the media when he was asked to stop for a few pictures. That's not unusual. Except on this occasion, the request came from the guy who had just signed his card."He's in my opinion the greatest golfer ever to play, so it was one of my best rounds I've ever played," Bronson Burgoon gushed after his round of 67.Woods posed with Burgoon and his caddie, and then one of Burgoon's friends stepped in for a picture.Hold on. One more.Burgoon's wife came over, and Woods delivered another big smile as if they were old friends.

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