In an uncharacteristically open press conference, Tiger Woods – who arrived half an hour late – spoke freely about the changes in his personal life, and game, since his last Open triumph at Royal Liverpool eight years ago.
Tiger revealed he is now a completely different player to the one who claimed the Claret Jug in 2006. The world No.7 spoke about the grief he was experiencing at the time of his last Open win following the death of his father. He also commented on the injuries that have plagued him in recent years, and spoke of his desire to claim his 15th major title.
The 38-year-old recalled his emotions during his Open Championship success back in 2006. “My life has certainly changed a lot since then,” said the American, whose father, Earl, passed away two months previous to teeing up at Hoylake. “That was a very emotional week.
"I really felt like my dad was with me. I said it back in ’06 that it was like having my 15th club." - Tiger Woods
“I pressed hard at Augusta that year, trying to win it, because it was the last time my dad was ever going to see me play a major championship.”
At Augusta, Woods lost out to Phil Mickelson then failed to make the cut at the US Open. However, when he came to Royal Liverpool he was able to regroup emotionally.
“I came here and just felt at peace. I really, really played well. On Sunday I really felt calm out there, it was surreal at the time. I’ve had a few moments like that in majors where I’ve felt that way on a Sunday. That was certainly one of them.”
“On Sunday I really felt like my dad was with me. I said it back in ’06 that it was like having my 15th club. I felt that type of peace out there.”
Tiger Woods ready to win
Woods’ last victory came at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational last year. Now, fresh from back surgery, Tiger has his sights fixed on hunting down Jack Nicklaus' major record.
When asked which finish he considered acceptable come Sunday, Woods replied: “First. That’s always the case.”
However, Tiger admits a lot has changed since he last won the Open. Woods has since split with his wife Elin Nordegren following a massive personal scandal and is now dating skier Lindsey Vonn. “Life is very different than it was then,” he said. “I’ve got a completely different golf swing. A lot of aspects of my life and game have changed since ’06.”
"I’m only going to get stronger and faster which is great." - Tiger Woods
“It’s getting harder to win. The margin is so much smaller. It’s only going to continue to be the case. Guys are going to get longer, they’re going to get faster. Guys who are coming out here are bigger stronger, faster and more athletic.”
However, now fully recovered after his back surgery, Woods feels he can rise to that challenge. “I’ve gotten more explosive,” he said. “I’ve gotten faster since then. That’s only going to be the case, I’m only going to get stronger and faster which is great.”