LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Tiger Woods will be hunting a rare hat-trick of British Open crowns next week on one his favourite courses in his most cherished major championship.
The July 19-22 tournament is being held at Carnoustie in Scotland, where three-times winner Woods will also be chasing his 13th major title.
“The British Open is my favourite major,” the American world number one said in his monthly newsletter.
“My first was at St. Andrews so it doesn’t get much better than that,” he added, referring to his Open debut as an amateur in 1995 when he tied for 68th.
“I just love the history, tradition and atmosphere. You need patience and imagination to play well, plus the fans are great. I’m really looking forward to next week.”
Although Woods will be bidding to become the first player since Australian Peter Thomson, in 1956, to win three successive Claret Jugs, he does not want to be distracted.
“That’s nice, but I’m not thinking about it,” he said. “You just stay focused on what you have to do. One takes care of three.”
Driven to surpass the record 18 majors piled up by his childhood idol Jack Nicklaus, Woods is determined to go one better at Carnoustie after tying for second in the year’s first two majors, the Masters and the U.S. Open.
“I’ve worked hard on my game this week with (swing coach) Hank Haney and hope it carries over to the British,” he said. “I’ve had two close calls in majors this year and would love to get a ‘W’ (win).”
Woods, who became a father for the first time last month, loved Carnoustie at first sight before losing a little faith when the challenging links layout staged the 1999 Open.
Long regarded as the most difficult course on the Open rota, it was dubbed ‘Car-nasty’ that year when narrow fairways and unusually deep rough caused havoc for the players.
“As an amateur, I played Scottish Opens there in 1995 and 1996 and thought it was one of the best courses I’ve ever played,” Woods said. “Then I came back and played the Open championship in 1999 and my opinion changed.
“Although I tied for seventh, it was probably the hardest British Open course I have ever played, even harder than Muirfield. The set-up was unfair and ridiculous.
“I remember stepping off the fairway at number six and it was nine yards wide in the lay-up area,” added Woods, Open champion in 2000, 2005 and last year.
“That’s not much room when you have to hit a four-iron in that space. It’s still a great course but I hope the R&A (Royal & Ancient organisers) has learned a lesson.”