Woods starts hot favourite

Defending champ and World No 1 aims for his 15th Major victory

Woods starts hot favourite

The world number one has long targeted the record 18 majors piled up by his childhood hero Jack Nicklaus and he trails by four after winning the US Open at Torrey Pines 12 months ago.  Woods, the greatest player of his generation, is the overwhelming favourite when action begins on Thursday at Bethpage State Park's Black Course, where he clinched the US Open when it was staged here for the first time in 2002.

"I'm excited to be here," the 33-year-old American told reporters on Tuesday. "Obviously, this golf course brings back some great memories for me.

"It's good to be back and I've enjoyed playing out here. The practice rounds have all been good and I'm really looking forward to Thursday. I like my chances in any major."
Asked who he regarded as the best golfer of all time, Woods replied without hesitation: "Jack. He's got 18. I'm at 14."

Woods, who will tee off in the opening round in the company of 2007 winner Angel Cabrera and British Open champion Padraig Harrington, will be bidding for his fourth US Open crown. "It's always nice to play well going into a major championship," said Woods, who clinched his first US Open at Pebble Beach in 2000 by a record 15 strokes.

"To get a win always adds to the confidence, no matter how you win, and especially going into a US Open. Generally, this is the hardest major we face, year-in and year-out. It has the narrowest fairways, the highest rough. You have to be patient and you have to drive the ball well. And this US Open being this wet and this long, the rough is so thick.”

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