Woods may forgo driver at Hoylake

Updated: July 19, 2006, 7:40 AM ET
By Mark Soltau | GolfDigest.com

HOYLAKE, England -- Tiger Woods might have concluded his preparation for the 135th British Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on Tuesday. After arriving Saturday, he and swing coach Hank Haney have studied the old links course and formulated a game plan: It might not include a driver.

No, Woods hasn't lost confidence with the big stick. Given the firm condition of the fairways and the locations of out-of-bounds, deep bunkers and tall grass, it makes more sense to sacrifice length for position. Besides, the ball is running so far, he's even replacing his 5-wood with a 2-iron, a club he hasn't carried since the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan late last year. "I'm trying to take advantage of the fast fairways and roll the ball out there," he said Tuesday.

If hot temperatures continue -- they reached nearly 90 degrees -- expect to see dust fly. Not that Woods or other contenders are complaining.

"The golf course is definitely fast," said Woods, a two-time winner and the defending champion. "It's hard. It's a little bit slower the last couple of days because obviously they're putting some water on it, trying to keep it alive. But overall it's going to be a fantastic challenge this week to play a golf course this fast. We don't get a chance to do this very often, but when we do, it sure brings back shot making and creativity back in the game."

Something Woods loves.

"It's not like you can go out there and hit a marginal shot and expect it to be OK," he said. "You come in with the wrong spin in the fairways or even on the greens, you're going to pay a consequence of that."

Many players have struggled getting shots to stick on the par-3 sixth and ninth greens.

"It's going to be really hard to get it close," Woods said. "A lot of good shots here downwind are going to be 20, 30, 40 feet away."

Not that he doesn't expect low scores.

"The par-5s are reachable and there are some short par-4s out here," Woods said. "If the wind stays down, I'm sure the guys will be making plenty of birdies out there."

Woods might take it easy Wednesday and rest up for Thursday's first round when he's scheduled to tee off at 2:09 p.m. local time (9:09 a.m. ET) with Nick Faldo and Shingo Katayama.

"If the wind keeps changing every day, it's really difficult to try to get accustomed to a golf course," Woods said. "The weather, since I've been here, it's blown out of three different directions. So you've had to adjust your game plan off of every tee. But also a little bit of fun, too."

Don't expect a lot of small talk between Woods and Faldo. The latter, a golf analyst for ABC, has been critical of Woods in the past.

"I've only played with him two times since I've been a pro. And there wasn't a lot of talking there, either," Woods said.

Asked if the two would shake hands on the first tee, Woods said, "I don't know. I really don't know. It's up to him and I'll be in my world trying to compete and trying to win the championship, and I'm sure he'll probably do the same thing."

Naturally, Woods will think of his father, Earl, who passed away May 3, often.

"I've come to terms with it, no doubt about that," he said. "He's not here anymore. It's not like I can pick up the phone and call him and say, 'Pop, what do you think about my putting stroke?' Those days aren't here anymore. So I've got to come to terms with it and understand it. I have so many wonderful memories that I'll look back on it with smiles every time."

Mark Soltau is the editor of TigerWoods.com and a contributing editor for Golf Digest magazine