Tiger takes third practice round
TURNBERRY, Scotland -- A lack of familiarity with this week's Open Championship venue appears to be of little concern to Tiger Woods, who got his third look at Turnberry's Ailsa course on Tuesday morning in preparation for the year's third major championship.
"You just have to do more homework in your practice rounds," Woods said during a Tuesday news conference. "I've obviously seen it on TV but I haven't played it yet [in a tournament]. It was nice to get out there. I played the last three days, and I've had basically the same wind but three different directions, which was nice.
"And try to get a little bit different feel for how the golf course is playing. You've just got to really make sure you do your homework while you're playing, because I can't rely on past years' experience."
As evidence, Woods appeared for his first practice round on Sunday with a Strokesaver book that any resort guest would use to try to navigate his way around the course.
If his practice rounds have been any indication, Woods will hit only a handful of drivers at most off the tee each day. Woods used that game plan to perfection three years ago at Royal Liverpool -- another Open venue he had never played before tournament week -- hitting just a single driver the entire week on his way to a third Open title.
"You have to be committed to either putting the ball short of the bunkers or carrying them or skirting it past them," Woods said. "You have to make sure you really know what you're doing out there, especially with the cross winds and the way some of these fairways are slanted. It certainly presents its challenges."
Woods can take some comfort in knowing that Turnberry has a history of identifying the best player of the era as its champion.
Tom Watson defeated Jack Nicklaus by a single stroke in the famous "Duel in the Sun" here in 1977. Greg Norman shot 63 during the second round on his way to the 1986 title. And Nick Price, who would also go on to win the PGA Championship a month later, claimed the 1994 Claret Jug.
"If you look at it that way, you look at the guys who were some of the best ball strikers," Woods said. "At this golf course, you can understand why. You really do have to hit your ball well, here. And you have to drive the ball well. You have to hit your irons well. You just can't fake it around this golf course. You have to hit good golf shots.
"And those four guys ... those are some of the best ball strikers of all time, or certainly in their eras."
Woods, who missed last year's Open due to injury, had played in the tournament every year going back to his amateur days in 1995 and has never missed the cut. His three victories were in 2000, 2005 and 2006.
Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com.
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138th OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
Stewart Cink might seem the villain after foiling Tom Watson's run at a sixth Claret Jug at the British Open. In time, though, the six-time PGA Tour winner will receive his due. Bob Harig
When: Thursday-Sunday, July 16-19
Where: Turnberry's Ailsa Course, Scotland
Yardage/Par: 7,204 yards; par 70
2009 champion: Stewart Cink