Tiger Woods comes into the 144th Open Championship in good spirits as he bids to win his fourth Claret Jug and 15th Major title

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Tiger Woods comes into the 144th Open Championship in an optimistic frame of mind as he bids to win his fourth Claret Jug and 15th Major title.

The former world number one believes his game is in good shape folowing recent swing changes and a strong showing at last week’s Greenbrier Classic.

Woods – now completely free from injury – is hoping the combination of form, experience and a special affinity with St Andrews will lead to success this week.

“I’m very excited to be back here at the Home of Golf. I’ve always loved this golf course, from the first time I played back in ’95. There’s just something special about this place.

“I love the creativity and the fact you need to be able to hit different types of shots. The first thing I heard about St Andrews is that all you do is hit it hard and aim left! That’s basically not how you play this golf course.”

Woods sees experience as key on the Old Course, especially with the changeable wind conditions expected throughout the week.

“If you haven’t seen the course in different wind conditions, bunkers you don’t even see on the yardage book come into play.

“One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that it helps playing practice rounds with with some of the older players and tapping into their knowledge.”

His comments seem to suggest Jordan Spieth will struggle to land the third leg of the Grand Slam following his victories at Augusta and Chambers Bay, given that he’d only played the Old Course once before this week.

“You can see the golf course on a simulator and it’s fantastic. I’ve seen it. But playing in different winds and having to hit different shots, it can be completely different from one day to the next. It does help seeing the golf course in different winds.”

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As for his own game, Woods feels he’s turned a corner since the Memorial Tournament, where he shot at 85 in the third round – his worst as a professional. But that was down to the essential “baseline shift” he was making that week.

“I’m still young. I’m not 40 yet. I know some of you guys think I’m buried and done, but I’m still right here in front of you. I love playing and I love competing.

“I’m playing better. I’m hitting the ball much, much more solid. I’m able to shape the ball both ways and I’m very comfortable changing my trajectories. That’s something I feel you need to do here, especially with the soft conditions. You’re probably going to have to be a little more agressive through the air than in years past.”

As for the future, Woods has no intention of hanging up his clubs any time soon. Far from it, in fact. When asked if he still gets nervous, he replied:

“I’m always nervous, because I care. The day when I’m not nervous is the day I quit. I want to feel the rush and I want to feel the nerves. I just enjoy playing tournament golf and competing against the best players in the world.”