July 27, 2006
By Tiger Woods
Winning my third British Open was pretty special. Coming into the tournament, I knew I was playing well, but you never know if it will carry over, especially on a strange course.I arrived the Saturday before the tournament because we had never been to Royal Liverpool before and there was no information on the course.
Stevie (Williams) caddied on the course in the early 80's but he couldn't remember a thing. We just had to get there early and formulate a strategy.The max I hit my driver during my practice rounds was three times, just because the wind was different and it was blowing quite a bit. I also wanted to take a look at the golf course. As far as strategy formulating, it probably didn't happen until Monday, and then Tuesday I tried it out and I didn't play on Wednesday.
Out of the four days that I did play - from Saturday through Tuesday - we had three different wind conditions. So I got to play the course so many different ways, and each time I kept coming back to one or two drivers, if I felt comfortable doing it. As it turned out, I only used it once, on the 16th hole Thursday.
Once the tournament stated, I didn't feel I really needed to be that aggressive out there. Just plot your way along and keep making pars. The par-5's where so reachable, I knew I could do damage on them and be in contention on the back nine Sunday. As it turned out, I was right. I played them 14-under par.Of course, I also ranked first in fairways hit in regulation and second in greens in regulation. That's not a bad combo, is it?
For some reason, I had just a wonderful inner-peace the entire week. I didn't know what was going on. It was a great feeling and I wish you could have it all the time, but it doesn't work out that way.When I was playing, I never really got that aggravated and I never got that excited. It was just a nice, level feeling the entire week.
Come Sunday afternoon when I really needed it, I was able to birdie 14, 15 and 16, but I felt at ease. I wasn't pressing all day and I felt a nice, even feeling and it worked out. Sometimes it doesn't work out. This time, it did. Pop must have been looking down on me.
Another thing that happened was before the last round, when I went to warm up at the practice range, I hit several yardage signs on the fly. I also did that last year before the final round at St. Andrews, when I hit the 100-yard marker four-straight times and went on to win. This year was similar. My distance control felt great and I was able to carry it over to the course.
After I met with the press, I went upstairs in the clubhouse with Stevie, Elin, Hank (Haney) and a few friends for a champagne toast with the R&A. The first thing I told them was, `That's the hardest you guys have ever set the pins.' They laughed and apologized for the warm temperatures and lack of wind. I told them if I hadn't been wearing spikes, I would have slipped off a couple greens. They were pretty slick.
I also sent a short text message to Annika Sorenstam that read: 11. When she recently won her 10th major on the LPGA Tour, she couldn't wait to text me. Guess I'm 1-up now.Winning was no fluke.
At the Western Open earlier this month, I worked my butt off with Hank. After I opened with a 1-over 72, we worked for 2 ½ hours until dark, even though I had an early starting time the next morning. I was sliding my head to the right during my back swing and worked hard to correct that. The next day, I shot 67 and went on to finish second. That was huge for me.
Needless to say, I feel good about my swing. I'll play in the Buick Championship next week, then get ready for the PGA Championship at Medinah. Winning another major championship does wonders for your confidence.
Thanks for all your kind emails. And, if you're interested, tickets for the Target World Challenge, Dec. 13-17 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Ca, can now be purchased online at targetworldchallenge.com.Take care.