Tiger Woods healed & hearty after surgery ahead of British Open

Ahead of Thursday’s British Open, former World No 1 Tiger Woods says he’s fully recovered from a back surgery and not even thinking about retirement

St Andrews (United Kingdom): Tiger Woods says that age and injuries have failed to diminish his will to win and that more major titles are still possible as he approaches his 40th birthday.

Speaking yesterday at his pre-tournament press conference ahead of his fifth British Open at St Andrews, the former World No 1 spoke of recent hard times and the distant good times in his golf career. Asked if he’d ever harboured thoughts of retirement during his bleak spell this year, Woods shot back: "Well, retirement? I don’t have any AARP (retirement) card yet, so I’m away from that. I feel like my body is finally healed from the (back) surgery from last year. They say it takes you about four to six months to get back, but a lot of guys on tour, who have had the surgery say it takes over a year to get back. They were closer to being right, it being a full year to get back."

Quest for glory
Woods continues his quest to add to the 14 major titles he has and close the gap on the all-time record of 18 held by Jack Nicklaus. But his last win in a Grand Slam event came over seven years ago (US Open), his last win in a British Open was at Hoylake (2006) and his last here was in 2005.

Injuries and changes to his swing pattern have dominated his game for the last two years reaching a nadir this year when he clocked up career-worst scores on the PGA Tour and in the US Open, where he missed the cut, and a best finish of tied 17th in the Masters. But St Andrews and the Old Course can hold the key to helping him return to glory. It’s a course he knows like the back of his hand, having won his first Open there by eight strokes in 2000 and then again, by five strokes, in 2005. "Obviously it’s the Home of Golf, but to me it’s brilliant how you can play it so many different ways," said Woods, who was one of the first golfers to arrive here, teeing off last Saturday for the first time since he tied for 23rd place in 2010.

‘Course is different’
He was surprised: "It’s playing a little bit differently than the previous Opens that I’ve played in. It’s a little bit softer and I’m sure it’s going to get even softer with the forecast (rain) for Friday. It’ll be playing a little bit differently this year. The only time I’ve seen it like this was when we played the Dunhill Cup in ’98. It was cold and soft then, and it’s not as cold now, but it’s got the same type of firmness."

Woods has tees off on Thursday in the company of 2010 champion at St Andrews Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Australia’s Jason Day.

Lahiri soaks in open with family

ST ANDREWS (Scotland): Travelling from the world of manicured fairways and greens and the imperiously towering pines of the Augusta National Golf Club to conditions that drove the best to despair at Chambers Bay golf course, Anirban Lahiri comes to the 'Home of Golf' at the Old Course for the third Major of the year.

"I am not much of a golf watcher, but I did see Tiger win the event on TV. It has stayed with me," he said, between blasting balls out of the bunkers at practice at the Old Course. "This is as good as it gets, playing the Old Course for the first time at St Andrews in the Open Championships. I also have my family, wife and parents to enjoy the moment," he says. Also in attendance is Vijay Divecha, his coach since childhood.

Lahiri, a self-confessed foodie, who loves travel, as does his gregarious wife, Ipsa, adds, "It's a lovely town with a bit of mystery and history. Small eateries, cobbled stone walkways, the ocean just round the corner; it's a a great atmosphere."

-- V Krishnaswamy

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