Sunday 18 August 2019

'It's very hard to know what is going on with Tiger' - Paul McGinley questions Woods' Open preparation

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods

Phil Casey

Former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley is baffled by Tiger Woods opting not to play competitively between the US Open and the Open Championship.

Woods did not play between winning his 15th major title in the Masters in April and the following month's US PGA Championship, where he missed the cut and trailed playing partner Brooks Koepka by 17 shots after two rounds.

The 43-year-old did not make the same mistake between the US PGA and US Open, finishing ninth in the Memorial Tournament and then 21st at Pebble Beach, but his only public appearance before a practice round at Royal Portrush on Sunday had been a post on social media.

Woods spent two weeks on holiday in Thailand with his mother and two children and admitted he did not touch a club while there before returning to the United States on July 2.

Two-time Open champion Padraig Harrington feels anyone "serious" about trying to lift the Claret Jug should have played either event, or preferably both, and McGinley admits he is perplexed by Woods' approach to the year's final major.

"It's very hard to know what is going on with Tiger," McGinley said.

"I don't know where he is with his fitness, his health, his family, but to only have played one tournament outside the majors since the Masters just doesn't make sense."

Asked if Woods had been drained by his emotional win at Augusta National after an 11-year major drought, McGinley added: "I don't know about that. Winning shouldn't take that much out of you. Winning should excite you. Winning should take you forward.

"That's why it makes no sense that he's only played in one tournament since Augusta, outside of the majors. I can't figure that out. When you win, you want to keep on playing, keep riding that wave.

"To have such huge breaks between the majors this year really hasn't made a lot of sense. I know the schedule has changed this year but is he giving himself the best chance, the best opportunity to win? You'd have to say no.

"As great a competitor as he is, you still need to cut your teeth in PGA Tour and European Tour events in between majors, in order to prep yourself and get ready for it. He's chosen not to do that.

"There were rumours he was heading to Ireland early to do some practice on links courses. But even though you're the best competitor in the world - one of the best competitors ever seen in sport - it's still very difficult to take so much time off and then try to compete against the standard of golf that we have at the moment.

"If you look at what he did in the run-up to the Masters, he played quite a bit and that's the reason why he won. He was well prepared.

"But since he's won the Masters he's just gone from major to major with the exception of Jack Nicklaus' tournament. I don't understand the reason behind it, but I'm sure he has his reasons and he'll be asked about it this week."

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