Golf

Tiger Woods returns to emotional Hoylake with victory on his mind

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It has been six-years since Tiger Woods tasted Major success and eight-years since he lifted the Claret Jug, the last of his three Open Championships, however despite being underprepared, the golfing megastar is adamant he has one thing on his mind, and that is a 15th Major Championship this week at Royal Liverpool.

Emotional win in 2006

Royal Liverpool was the scene of that last Open Championship victory, when he held off Chris Di Marco, Ernie Els, jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia, for what was a memorable and emotional, 11th Major win.

Barely weeks before he teed off at the 135th Open Championship, Woods lost his father, Earl, a person he always regarded as the main inspiration in his life.

At the time his father had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and the the world number one was desperate to win one last Major Championship while his father was still around.

Sadly for Woods it wasn't to be, and after closing with a superb 67, he collapsed sobbing into the arms of his caddie Steve Williams, in what will be remembered as one of golf's most emotional scenes.

"It feels great to come back to Hoylake and to this venue. It meant a lot to me in my life at the time," Woods told a packed press conference on Tuesday.

"The people are fantastic. I was going through a pretty tough time in my life at the time, and people were very supportive that week."

"Now it's eight years on and my life has certainly changed a lot since then. That was a very emotional week.

"As you all know, I pressed pretty hard at Augusta that year, trying to win it, because it was the last time my dad was ever going to see me play a major championship. And then I didn't play well at the US Open.

"Then came here and just felt at peace. I really, really played well. On Sunday I really felt calm out there. It was surreal at the time.

"I've had a few moments like that in majors where I've felt that way on a Sunday and that was certainly one of them," added the 14-time major winner, who only trails Jack Nicklaus who leads on 18.

"That year in 2006 was the same. I wouldn't necessarily say it was every day but certainly on Sunday I really felt that my dad was with me on that one round.

"I said it back then in '06 that it was like having my 15th club. I felt that type of at peace when I was out there."

Last of the Major wins

Woods followed up his 2006 Open Championship win, with victory in the PGA Championship a few months later and then defended it a year on before winning his last Major at Torey Pineys, in the 2008 US Open.

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On the course, despite winning another 14 PGA Tour titles since 2009, he has failed to get any closer to Jack Nicklaus' record of 18-Majors.

Revelations in his private life, injuries and age have halted his assault on Nicklaus' record, however Woods insists he is at Hoylake to win, despite playing just two rounds of competitive golf in four months since recovering from back surgery.

"I think that I've been in circumstances like this before. If you remember in 2008, I had knee surgery right after the Masters.

"I teed it up at the US Open and won a US Open. I didn't play more than nine holes and the Sunday before the US Open I didn't break 50 for nine holes and still was able to win it in a playoff, with an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament damage) and a broken leg.

"I've proven I can do it, it's just a matter of putting my game into place and giving myself the best chances this week to put the ball 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, but I've just got to do it this week."

Woods, one of the great Open Champions

Pain free

The former world number one is playing pain free for the first time in years and believes his game will only get better as time goes by.

"My game is getting better and playing at Congressional was a big boost to me. The fact that I was able to go at it that hard and hit it like that with no pain.

"I've gotten stronger since then, I've gotten more explosive and I'm only going to get stronger and faster, which is great."

Woods will tee off on Thursday with former Masters and US Open champion Angel Cabrera and world number two Henrik Stenson who finished runner-up at last years Open Championship.

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Topics:
Golf
The Open
Tiger Woods

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