Tiger Woods believes age is no impediment to winning another major title as he prepares to return to the Open in Carnoustie tomorrow.
The three-times former champion tees off in the first round with Scot Russell Knox and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama at 3.21pm.
Woods is bidding to add to his 14 major triumphs, the last of which was ten years ago. Now 42, Woods sees no reason why he can’t resuscitate a trend for older winners of the Open, which he believes is the championship providing him with the best opportunity to win his 15th major title.
Current champion Jordan Spieth was only 23 when he won at Royal Birkdale last year. Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, triumphed at Hoylake four years ago at the age of only 25.
But they are anomalies among more veteran recent champions. Henrik Stenson was 40 when he lifted the Claret Jug two years ago. Zach Johnson was 39 when he won at St Andrews in 2015. Darren Clarke won at Sandwich in 2011 as a 42 year old. Phil Mickelson was 43 when he won five years ago at Muirfield.
Others have made notable attempts to claim the Claret Jug when in their fifties, including Tom Watson nine years ago at Turnberry.
“Look what Tom did at Turnberry at 59, I believe he was,” said Woods. “So it’s possible. Greg [Norman] was there at Birkdale [in 2008], I think he was about 54-ish, somewhere around there [he was 53]. It certainly can be done.”
Woods explained that links golf, with its ever-changing weather conditions, tends to be a great leveller. Once in need of no help to out-drive the chasing pack, Woods is now glad of the firm, dry conditions since the quick fairways will help him keep up with younger big-hitters such as Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler.
“You get to places like Augusta National, where it’s just a big ballpark,” said Woods. “The golf course outgrows you, unfortunately. That’s just the way it goes. But links style golf courses, you can roll the ball. I hit a 3-iron [this week] down 18 that went down there to 330 [yards].
“Even as I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.
“So distance becomes a moot point on a links style golf course. Creativity plays such an important role, and you’ve got guys like Tom playing late in his career, doing well. There’s a reason why he won five of these (Opens) – he is very creative and can hit all the shots.”