Woods defiant ahead of Open
Tiger Woods says he is happy with his game but continues to confound fans and critics alike when it comes to the big events.
Tiger Woods insists he is happy with the way his game is shaping up but continues to confound fans and critics alike when it comes to the big events.
When the 36-year-old won the last of his 14 majors - the 2008 US Open - no-one would have predicted he would go four years without adding to a tally only bettered by Jack Nicklaus' 18.
Fitness problems and issues in his personal life account for part of the slump in his form but it is his lack of ruthlessness which cannot be explained.
Woods was famous, particularly in majors, for getting the job done when it mattered so when he took the 36-hole lead at the US Open it seemed a foregone conclusion his long drought would be ended at The Olympic Club in California.
Instead, the former all-conquering world number one slipped away over the final two days to finish 21st.
It is even more of a puzzle considering he won both his warm-up tournaments prior to this year's first two majors.
But the three-time Open champion, looking to lift his first Claret Jug since he won on his last visit to the north-west of England when the tournament was at Hoylake, remains confident his game is holding up.
"The way I struck the golf ball, the way I controlled it all week (at the US Open) is something that's very positive going forward," said Woods, who endured an injury-troubled 2011.
"I'm excited about the consistency of it. I'm able to shape the ball better with better trajectory control.
"Last year was a tough year battling those injuries. This year I've done well in spurts but now it's becoming more consistent, day-in and day-out."
Not a major goes by when Woods is not asked whether he thinks he can catch Nicklaus' record.
He insists he has not lost the ability to win major championships and has not put a timescale on his quest to chase down Nicklaus.
"I think even if I do win a major championship, it will still be, 'You're not to 18 yet', or 'When will you get to 19?'," he added.
"Jack did it at 46 so I've got 10 [years]. Tom Watson almost pulled it off at 59 (in the Open at Turnberry in 2009).
"It can be done. We can play for a very long time. Most of the guys used to shut it down in early 40s but Vijay Singh won almost 30 events, just in his 40s alone."
Woods' hopes for a hard and fast course at Royal Lytham and St Annes appear forlorn considering the amount of rain which has fallen in what passes for the British summer.
"I've always preferred it to be more difficult and when the golf course gets harder and faster it is certainly something I like," he said.
"You can't set up and hit your ball to a number and have it plug. The ball is going to have run out.
"That's the reason I love playing links golf, because the ball does chase, it does move on the ground."