TIGER WOODS will tee off at Adare Manor today delighted to start his preparations for the British Open Championship at St Andrews in earnest.
The world number one left the United States last night for Ireland’s midwest and the JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am slightly earlier than he had hoped, after a disappointing week at the AT&T National in Pennsylvania.
Yet despite failing to shoot an under-par round in a tournament for the first time since the 1999 Bay Hill Invitational, Woods departed in good cheer as he continues to get his game back on track after a turbulent start to his season.
Following a closing one over par 71 at Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia that left him at four over as 54-leader Justin Rose began his final round at 10 under, Woods was asked about his trip across the Atlantic.
“I’m really excited about it,” Woods said. “I’ve driven the ball better this week than I have in a fairly long time. So it was fun to hit the driver that way.
“I was hitting driver as many times as I possibly could, just because it felt so good, and I just wanted to keep hitting it. That hasn’t been the case lately. So it was nice to get that dialled in.
“Now I just need to get the putter working a little bit better.”
Of a return to the Old Course at St Andrews, the Home of Golf and scene of two of his three previous Open victories in 2000 and 2005, Woods was equally enthusiastic about the layout he calls his favourite in the world.
“I can’t wait to get over there, really looking forward to it.
“I’m really looking forward to getting my lines, my numbers, my feel again over there. We’ll just see how the weather is, because you never know.”
Before his final round at Aronimink, which featured three birdies and four bogeys, Woods had said he felt considerably better heading into the Open than he had three weeks ago teeing it up at Pebble Beach for the US Open.
And two more rounds at Adare Manor over the next two days would only help him, he said.
“The more tournaments I play this year, I’m getting better. The feel is getting better. I feel more comfortable with what I’m working on, and I’m just going out there and playing in a competitive environment because it’s so much more comfortable than it was at the beginning of the year.”
Also heading to Adare Manor will be Englishman Rose, the Memorial Tournament winner who began his final round last night as the 54-hole leader for the second week in a row and as the leader or co-leader for the seventh round of his last 11 on the PGA Tour.
* Lee Westwood was last night forced to withdraw from Adare because of a leg injury and is replaced by Australian left hander Richard Green.
Westwood has also opted out of the 3 Irish Open at Killarney at the end of the month.
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