TIGER Woods today admitted he’s relishing being back at Muirfield this summer after “catching a bad day” on his last visit to the East Lothian course.
The 14-time major winner was referring to the third round of the 2002 Open when he slumped to a ten-over-par 81 as wind and rain wreaked havoc.
Woods bounced back with a closing 65 to finish joint-28th behind Ernie Els and is now looking forward to his return in July when Muirfield stages the world’s oldest major for the 16th time.
“Muirfield is a wonderful test – I just caught a bad day there in ’02 on the Saturday,” said the world No. 2 as he prepared for this week’s HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship.
Woods, who has new Nike stablemate and world No. 1 Rory McIlroy among his rivals this week, also gave his views on another big event being held in Scotland – the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
Tom Watson has already been appointed as the American captain for the match in Perthshire, with Europe set to name his opposite number in the UAE capital tonight. The chances of that being Colin Montgomerie for a second time in three matches appear to have increased after Darren Clarke officially pulled out of the race. Indeed, it seemed to be a straight choice between Monty and Irishman Paul McGinley for the European Tour’s tournament committee.
Asked for his views about the possibility of Europe breaking an unwritten rule by appointing Montgomerie for a second stint, Woods said he saw no reason why not. “Tony Jacklin did all right and so did Bernard Gallacher – they did it more than once,” said Woods.
Englishman Jacklin helped turn the tide in the biennial contest with two wins and a draw under his captaincy.
After two defeats, Lothians legend Gallacher also tasted victory as Europe pulled off a stunning last-day fightback at Oak Hill in 1995.
“While I know the European model has been different to the American matrix, it depends on what the committee want to do,” added Woods.
He’s looking to get his season off to a “good start” in Abu Dhabi, where he was pipped for the title by Englishman Robert Rock 12 months ago.
“I’m playing two weeks in a row [America next week for the Farmers Insurance Open [at Torrey Pines] and I’m geared up for them,” he declared.