Can Tiger Woods really win the Open?
The 42-year-old believes the Open represents his best chance of a 15th major
Tiger Woods believes the Open may represent his best chance of adding to his 14 major titles as he prepares to take on Carnoustie.
The 42-year-old is on the comeback trail once again 15 months after spinal fusion surgery and, although it is now ten years since he last won one of golf’s four biggest events, observers are impressed by both his form and his attitude.
Links golf also suits him and, with the dry conditions expected to shorten the course, he could be in with a shout.
“You get to places like Augusta National where it’s just a big ballpark and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately,” he explained. “That’s just the way it goes. But on a links-style golf course, you can roll the ball.”
So does he have a chance?
Always popular with the punters, Woods is in the top ten favourites to win the title at 28-1.
“His durability, touch and nerve were doubted upon his return,” says Daniel Zeqiri of the Daily Telegraph, “but Woods has recorded three top-ten finishes on the PGA Tour this season and offered the golfing world glimpses of the old magic
“Fast, running links make the Open a test of strategy and imagination, and few players are as capable as Woods at thinking and visualising their way around.”
He has a new putter to play with and the rest of his game is in shape, adds Zeqiri. But can he handle the pressure?
“Surgery was able to fix Woods’s back, but the cure for frayed nerves must come from the six inches between his ears,” he says.
Woods seems serious, says Rick Broadbent of The Times. “The old man has the sniff of a chance.
“Sagacious sceptics as well as nostalgic cheerleaders are excited by this year’s Woods. The comeback has already surpassed most expectations.
“Now, before we accept that Woods is going to roll the stone from the tomb any time soon, it is worth remembering that he has not won anything for five years. Yet second place at the Valspar Championship in March lit the touchpaper and, if he missed the cut at the US Open, a third top-five finish inside four months at the Quicken Loans National came with the whiff of revival.”
A Woods win would be the romantics’ choice, says Chris Cutmore of Mail Online.
“After all the pain and suffering he’s been through since his last major win in 2008, even his harshest critics would surely applaud a win at the age of 42.
“Those not wanting to put away the calculators and form guides just yet might also want to consider that his best golf since his comeback has been only just short of what was needed to win on several occasions. Most of all, he fits perfectly the prototype of a champion at a sun-baked Carnoustie.”
But not everyone is convinced. Colin Montgomerie says Woods looks good on the greens but tells the Daily Mail: “Tiger doesn’t drive the ball straight enough yet to get round Carnoustie. Starting on the fairway halfway up the hole, fantastic. But he’s not starting halfway up the hole on the fairway.”