July 12, 2005

Tiger gets his thinking cap ready for St. Andrews

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Reuters) - Tiger Woods relishes the
cerebral aspect of links course golf provided by British Opens.

The world number one, who romped to victory by eight shots
in the 2000 championship at St Andrews, believes the game is
most enjoyable when players have to plot their way around the
humps, bumps and pot bunkers of Open layouts.

"That's how golf is meant to be played," the 29-year-old
American told a news conference on Tuesday as he prepared for
Thursday's opening round at St Andrews.

"It's always more fun when you have to think your way
around a golf course, instead of just getting up and hitting it
and who cares where it goes.

"Golf is meant to be more cerebral, you have to use your
head to get around. And I think that's the fun part.

"You have to think, and you have to try to get an
understanding of how far the ball is going to run, which is an
element you generally don't have to worry about.

"There is an element of a little bit of luck, too, on what
side of the mound you land on. If you hit the correct shot,
though, it will always be okay."

Woods, who clinched his ninth career major at the U.S.
Masters in April, will start the 134th British Open as firm
favorite with his prodigious length off the tee and brilliant
short game ideally suited to the challenge of St Andrews.


When he won the 2000 championship with a record
19-under-par total of 269, conditions were benign all week.
With similar weather expected over the next five days, Woods
predicts another spree of low scoring over the Fife seaside

"The golf course is pretty quick," he said. "The fairways
are fast, the greens are firm and we haven't got any wind yet.

"The greens are at a speed where you can be aggressive, but
they are firm and it will be interesting to see where they put
the pins, over the knobs or on the corners.

"But that would be the only defense if the wind doesn't
blow, otherwise the guys are going to shoot some pretty low

Woods, who spent most of last year revamping his swing with
coach Hank Haney, is excited that his efforts have reaped early

"The end of last year was a big step for me," he said. "To
have put the pieces together and to win a big tournament (the
Dunlop Phoenix) like I did in Japan, after going all through
the changes with Hank.

"Then to start off this year with a couple of early wins
before I got to Augusta and then to win another major
championship, that's always nice."

"I have had good finishes in my last three events, which
was nice," he added. "I know I am swinging well coming into the
event. It's just a matter of building on what I've been doing."

Woods is scheduled to tee off with Spaniard Jose Maria
Olazabal and Australia's Robert Allenby at 0820 local time
(0720 GMT) in the opening round.