'Unplayable' rough irks Tiger after he gets down to work quickly
TIGER WOODS must have been pulling on his golf shoes as his private jet touched down in Blackpool early yesterday morning.
So keen was Tiger to get out on the links at Royal Lytham and St Annes, venue for this week's British Open, that he struck his opening tee-shot at the first less than 90 minutes after stepping off his overnight flight from Florida.
One can almost imagine him asking the pilot "are we there yet? Are we there yet?" as the aircraft crossed the Atlantic.
In his most recent blog on TigerWoods.com, the former World No 1 describes The Open as "my favourite Major". Yet Woods, the pre-championship favourite after winning three times on the US PGA Tour this year, was taken aback yesterday by the bottomless rough at Lytham, describing it as "almost unplayable".
"Oh my God," Woods blurted. "It's just that you can't get out of it, the bottom six inches of rough are so lush. We've faced the long, wispy stuff at every British Open, but those bottom six inches, in some places it's almost unplayable."
Tiger is well used to the different nature of the nine courses on the Open rota and the different playing conditions the championship experiences each year.
They range from the high winds which buffeted his favourite venue, St Andrews, in 2010 to parched and fast fairways of Hoylake in 2006, where he won the most recent of his three Claret Jugs.
Lytham, which he counts third after the Old Course and Carnoustie on his list of Open favourites, is playing softer than Tiger remembers it in 2001 and 1996 after the wettest June on record in these islands.
For the record, Woods shared 25th behind David Duval here in 2001 and won the amateur medal in a tie for 19th behind Tom Lehman in 1996.
"I like the layout, Lytham is fair, they don't have to trick it up," said Tiger, who was delighted that yesterday's beaming sunshine gave him an opportunity to play 18 holes.
With one eye on the forecast for 48 hours or more of heavy rain, beginning last night, Woods spent five hours on the course yesterday, more than half of that time working extensively on Lytham's subtle greens.
PGA champion Keegan Bradley missed the cut on an eye-opening first taste of tournament golf on a real 'links' at the recent Irish Open in Portrush and was introduced to another common feature of some old-style links courses at Lytham yesterday.
"I've never played a course where the first nine holes are pretty much downwind and the last nine are straight in," he said.
Welcome to our world, Keegan.