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Tiger says Carnoustie not like it was in 1999

CARNOUSTIE (Reuters) - Tiger Woods said his love affair with Carnoustie was blossoming afresh on Tuesday after a serious falling-out eight years ago.

Tiger Woods of the U.S. putts with one hand on the second hole during a practice session at the 2007 British Open Golf Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland, July 16, 2007. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

The world number one was unhappy at the way the links course was set up for the 1999 British Open with waist-high rough and lightning fast greens. He finished 10 over par in a tie for seventh.

“I’ve never played a golf course as hard as that course was set up and as unfair as it was set up,” Woods told reporters recently.

Woods, aiming to become the first man for more than 50 years to win three Open claret jugs in a row, has no such gripes for the 2007 edition which tees off on Thursday.

“It’s extremely fair,” he told a news conference. “It’s not like it was in ‘99.

“It’s probably a little more difficult than it was in the Scottish Open events I played here (in the mid-1990s). So it’s roughly right in between.”

Woods is in love with most of the seaside courses on the British Open roster, a real challenge after the target-golf layouts uniformly met on the PGA Tour.

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“I love playing over here because it allows you to be creative,” said Woods, who has won two Opens at St Andrews (2000 and 2005) and one at Hoylake (2006). “I love to manoeuvre the ball.

“Over here you can create shots. You get to use the ground as an ally. You just don’t get that opportunity in the States.”


He said he had learned the craft of links play, especially around the greens, from three-times British Open winner Seve Ballesteros who announced his retirement on Monday aged 50.

“Seve has been probably the most creative player who’s ever played the game,” said Woods.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to pick his brain on several occasions around the greens, watched him hit shot after shot and have him explain how he did it. To see the creativity, he was a genius.”

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The tournament will be the first major the 31-year-old American has played since becoming a father shortly after June’s U.S. Open at Oakmont where he finished runner-up to Angel Cabrera.

His wife Elin and daughter Sam are “doing fantastic” at home in Florida.

Several people have suggested Woods, with 12 major wins already under his belt and in sight of Jack Nicklaus’s record 18, could lose a bit of his golfing desire.

“They are wrong, said Woods. “They have said that a lot. First, it was getting engaged, then it was getting married and now having a child. It’s always something.”