Tiger Woods relishing The Open at 'unbelievable' Royal Portrush

Tiger Woods pictured during one of the practice rounds at Royal Portrush
Tiger Woods pictured during one of the practice rounds at Royal Portrush
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Tiger Woods is definitely a fan of The Open's return to Royal Portrush, as he hailed the venue as an 'unbelievable' golf course.

The fifteen-time Major winner is experiencing the links course for the very first time at The Open this week, and he has been suitably impressed with what he has saw so far.

"It's amazing that it (The Open) hasn't been here in such a long period of time," said Woods.

"I know that The R&A has a deal where we go back and forth from Scotland to England.

"This is just a wonderful golf course. It can play so many different ways, depends on the wind, what it does.

"Some of the bunkers here, you wonder why in the hell is it there. And then all of a sudden it's in play.

"The difference between this layout versus most of the Open rota layouts is that the ball seems to repel around the greens a lot.

"You're going to have a lot of either bump-and-run chips, chips, or quite a bit of slow putts coming up the hills. But it's an unbelievable golf course.

"Everyone who's played it, whether it's guys who grew up here or people who have come up here and just have played, they've always enjoyed it.

"They've always enjoyed playing this golf course. And I can understand why. It's straightforward. It is tricky a little bit here and there, but overall it's just a wonderful links golf course."

Woods, who last won The Open in 2006, knows that the course will throw up its own challenges throughout the week depending on the weather conditions.

"I've seen enough of it to understand that I'm still going to have to do quite a bit of homework in my yardage book of trying to figure out how I'm going to play each hole with the different winds that are going to be predicted to blow and where to miss the golf ball in the correct spots," he said.

"Joey (LaCava) has done just an unbelievable job of getting numbers. He's gone out a number of different times because he knows the weather is going to change, the wind is going to change.

"Our carries are going to be different. Our ending numbers are going to be different. So trying to figure all that out and then put together a game plan that's going to work.

"Last year it was hot, it was fiery, the golf course was quick. A lot of players tried to take advantage of it by hitting driver.

"I played a different game and tried to play a little more of a conservative, controlled game and put myself up there with a chance.

"This year with the weather coming in it's going to be different because we haven't faced this wind yet. The wind has been out of the north, it's been out of the east. And it will be different when it comes blowing."

So has Tiger approached any of the local players for some insider knowledge?

"No, I have not," he said. "I texted Brooksie (Koepka), congratulations on another great finish.

"What he's done in the last four major championships has been just unbelievable. To be so consistent, so solid. He's been in contention to win each and every Major Championship.

"And I said, Hey, dude, do you mind if I tag along and play a practice round? I've heard nothing!"

Woods has also been impressed by the local golf fans, who have come out in their numbers all week so far.

"The people have been absolutely fantastic," he said. "They're so respectful.

"We used to come over here all the time and fish with the late Payne Stewart and O'Meara and I, and we used to go fishing all around Ireland and play golf and enjoy coming over here and playing.

"I've never been this far north. Royal County Down is the furthest north I've ever been.

"I haven't had a lot of time off. Normally I take Wednesday off, so tomorrow I'll look around a little bit and see a few things."