It's time for Tiger watch

World number one Woods eyes redemption at familiar terrain

It's time for Tiger watch

Can some other veteran complete what Greg Norman and Tom Watson left unfinished at Birkdale and Turnberry - a story of a golden oldie bringing home a romantic story? Can an Asian win the Open after finding a breakthrough at the Majors last year? And finally, last but not the least; can the English produce a winner at their National Open?

Imponderables all, but what would sport be without such questions! Tiger Woods is looking for redemption at the course, where he has twice won the Open in 2000 and 2005. One more Major could set to rest arguments that Tiger is not what he was before hitting a fire hydrant. And it will also take him one step closer to Jack Nicklaus’ magic figure of 18 Majors.

Nicklaus, who waved a tearful goodbye to the Open at the Swilcan Bridge here in 2005, has not come for the Champions Challenge, where 27 former champions will play four holes for a charity.

But the popular Tom Watson, a five-time winner, who almost added a sixth last year, is here again. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by St. Andrews University on Tuesday and he was drawn to also play in Champions Challenge on late Wednesday. But an injured shoulder has forced two-time champion Greg Norman to pull out.

World Cup football and Wimbledon disappointments have become a habit with Englishmen who host some of the best-known sporting events but without getting to hold the trophy, too often. It has been almost two decades since Sir Nick Faldo held aloft the Claret Jug at Muirfield in 1992 – he did that twice earlier in 1987 and 1990 (at St. Andrews). But that success has not been replicated since, though Faldo in 1993 and Ian Poulter in 2008, did finish runners-up. More than an eighth in the field this week at St. Andrews are English – 21 of the 156 – and four of the world’s top-10 and five of the top-20 are English. Faldo says this could the year of the English.

What then of the Asians, who are still looking for their first Open? There are eight each of Koreans and Japanese besides a Thai and a Malaysian. If numbers are an indication of growing strength, then the Koreans are on the right path. A golfing nation known for its successful women in the sport, they are now making waves in men’s golf. This week at St. Andrews there are eight Koreans in the field. That is two more than Scotland. There are also eight Japanese in the field with Ryo Ishikawa, the Bashful Prince as the star among the eight. K J Choi, an Asian Tour honorary member, is delighted to see a strong Korean presence, especially when he is regarded as the trailblazer. “This is evidence to how far golf in Korea has developed and become better, talent wise,” said Choi.

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