Open practice for Tiger at Hoylake

Congleton Guardian: Tiger Woods won the Open at Hoylake in 2006 (AP) Tiger Woods won the Open at Hoylake in 2006 (AP)

Tiger Woods stepped up his preparation for next week's Open Championship with his first practice round at Hoylake on Saturday.

Woods, who lifted the Claret Jug for the third time when the Open was last staged at Hoylake in 2006, missed the first two majors of the year after undergoing back surgery on March 31.

The former world number one missed the cut on his return to action in the Quicken Loans National at the end of June but declared himself pain-free and ready to resume his bid for a 15th major title and first since the 2008 US Open.

The Golf Channel reported that Woods played the first six holes and then switched to the back nine to play from the 13th to the 18th.

Woods had previously labelled his post-op recovery "slow and tedious", but told reporters after his round that a cautious approach had paid dividends.

"The little baby steps worked," Woods said. "We were very diligent about what I was doing. Going into it we pushed it pretty hard to get my abs and glutes strong so when I did come back I was able to rebound fast. I can do whatever I want. I'm at that point now. We didn't think we'd get to that point until this tournament or the week after.

"Before I had the procedure, I was at the point I couldn't do anything. This is how I used to feel. I had been playing with (the back injury) for a while and I had my good weeks and bad weeks. Now they are all good."

Woods used his driver just once at Hoylake in 2006, using irons and 3-woods off the tee on the rock-hard links.

"It's definitely different, there is no doubt," he added. "It's a lot more green, lush, but it's still playing fast."

Despite missing the cut on his comeback, Woods added: "Congressional was big for me, the fact I could go out there and play and I got better as the days went on. It was a little bit wary and iffy if that was going to happen or not, especially with how hard I was hitting the ball.

"But I've got my speed back, which is nice, and I'm starting to hit the ball out there again. I'm only going to get stronger. As the weeks go on, I'm getting strong and faster."

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