July 14, 2005

Flying Woods checked by bunkers of St. Andrews

By Jon Bramley

ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Reuters) - Tiger Woods finally found
the sand of St Andrews in his first round on Thursday but it
did not stop him making a flying start in the 134th British

The last time he played here five years ago the world
number one avoided landing in any of the 112 bunkers during 72
holes on the Old Course for his eight-shot Open victory.

He launched his campaign for a second Claret Jug and his
10th major with a pace-setting six-under-par 66 but fell into
three sandtraps, at the seventh, 13th and 16th.

"I hit three bunkers today and was playing those holes one
over par. It's not a good spot to be in, that's for sure,
because these faces are obviously high," said 29-year-old Woods
who led by two from a group of four players midway through the
opening round.

"Most of the shots you're going to hit into the bunkers are
coming in with speed, so they'll run up against the face. It's
very rare that you have a shot."

The accepted wisdom at St Andrews is that the fewer bunkers
you visit, the better your chances of victory.


At the 390-yard seventh, Woods smashed a three wood some
340 yards to land in one of the widest and deepest bunkers on
the course but he fashioned a magnificent recovery to four feet
to collect one of four outward birdies.

He was not able to escape without cost from his two other
visits to sand at the 13th and 16th -- the first with his
drive, the second with his approach -- and he conceded bogey
fives on both occasions.

They were the only blemishes in a sparkling display of golf
from Woods which included eight birdies, four on the trot
around the turn.

"I am very happy. Even though I had it going and was seven
under through 12 holes before ending up with six. That was a
great start to the tournament. I am very pleased with the way I
played all day," said Woods.

It bettered his opening round in 2000 by one when he went
on to crush the Old Course with an overall 19-under-par 269
record total.

"It was a totally different wind to last time. Then it was
off the right on the first hole and this time it was off the
left. The outward holes are much harder than they were last
time, so the inward holes are the easier ones.

"Two totally different golf courses but I still feel very
comfortable out there."

He certainly looked relaxed throughout and kept his
concentration perfectly focused despite a low-flying bird
forcing him to walk away from his opening drive and then a
member of the crowd fainting as he prepared to tee off at the
short 11th.

"My last three events, I've been playing well -- I'm just
trying to build on that," said Woods.