A selection of some of the best bits from Tiger Woods’ pre-Open press conference

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A selection of some of the best bits from Tiger Woods’ pre-Open press conference:

Q. What is more difficult as a professional golfer to handle, the emotional turmoil or the physical turmoil?

A: Well, you know, you can have emotional turmoil and still play well. Physically when you’re hurt, you’re hurt. It’s tough to really play well, especially over a long period of time. Golf’s a marathon. It’s four days, five-hour-plus days of playing and grinding. Yeah, when I’ve been physically not feeling my best it’s tough. You can do it for a day. You can do it for maybe two days, but it’s really hard to do it for all four.

Q: Given your limited preparation coming in here, what would be an acceptable finish for you this weekend?

A: First.

Q: Anything less than that would be unacceptable?

A: That’s always the case, yeah.

Q: Can you just give us an indication of where you feel your game is, considering that competitive action you’ve had the last few months?

A: It’s getting better. Playing at Congressional was a big boost to me. The fact that I was able to go at it that hard and hit it like that with no pain. It wasn’t like that the previous time I played. Playing at both the Honda and Doral I did not feel well. But to come back and be able to hit the ball as hard as I was able to hit it. I’ve gotten stronger since then, I’ve gotten more explosive, I’ve gotten faster since then. That’s going to be the case, I’m only going to get stronger and faster, which is great.

Q: Is it harder for you to win a Major now than it was eight years ago? If so, why, what makes it harder?

A: I think it gets harder every year, just because the fields get deeper. More guys with a chance to win. What did we have, 16, 17 straight first-time winners and more Major championship winners throughout that stretch. It’s just getting deeper. It’s getting harder to win. The margin is so much smaller. It’s only going to continue to be the case. Guys are going to get longer, they’re going to get faster. Guys who are coming out here are bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic. When I first came out here in ’97, I think, I averaged somewhere just under 300 yards, 296 or something like that. I walked around with Gary Woodland on Sunday and he said, “Yeah, I finally found a driver and a ball I can hit 320 again in the air.” Yeah, in the air. So the game has changed a lot since then.

Q: If you remain fit would you consider playing right through your 40s or even into your early 50s to beat Jack’s record?

A: Hopefully I’ll have it done by then!

Tiger seemed calm and relaxed today, more so than in many previous pre-Open conferences of recent years. He still has incredible levels of self-belief and clearly, in his eyes, only victory this week will do.

His message is that he is back to full fitness and that rustiness will not be a factor this week. Whether he really believes it himself is another matter.