Returning Woods in spotlight

Returning Woods in spotlight

Returning Woods in spotlight

Tiger Woods returns to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs at Hoylake this week, as he attempts, in the 143rd British Open, to resurrect a career blighted by injury.

It was at the Royal Liverpool links course in 2006 that Woods won the 12th of his 14 major titles just weeks after the death of his father Earl.

It was a superbly crafted performance as the American tamed a course made fiery and fast by hot, sunny conditions.

He won by two strokes at 18-under par as he continued relentlessly on his lifelong quest to match the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus.

Woods seemed unstoppable, but then, three years later, it all went pear-shaped as years of swing strain on his leg, arm and back muscles made him pay a painful cost for his success and then his marriage broke up after a shameful, public exposure of his marital infidelities.

Coming back to Hoylake for the first time since 2006, the question marks that surround Woods are as pertinent as ever before. He has not won a major in six years and he has played only one tournament since having back surgery at the end of March, missing the cut at Congressional outside Washington last month.

But such is his allure and talent that no-one -- players or fans -- are writing off his chances. “Well it’s eight years on. My life has certainly changed since then,” said Woods, who arrived at Hoylake earlier than usual on Saturday to begin his preparations for the year’s third major tournament.

The 38-year-old world number seven insists that he is pain-free for the first time in years and that he has a 15th major title firmly in his sights.

Agreeing with Woods that the par-72 layout on the Wirral peninsula stuck in between Liverpool and the north Wales coastline is a shotmakers delight, Graeme McDowell said that placement rather than length would be the key to success.

“Look at the way Tiger won here in 2006. He can dominate with length, but he didn’t have to. This golf course doesn’t ask that question. It asks you to play a game of chess more than anything.”

McDowell, who won the French Open two weeks ago, is among the favourites as is England’s Justin Rose who won back-to-back tournaments by taking the Scottish Open at Aberdeen last Sunday.

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