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US Open: Hungry Tiger Woods out to claw his way back to top of the world

By Phil Casey

Former world number one Tiger Woods is willing to suffer the embarrassment of his current form for the chance to get back to the top of the game he once dominated.

Woods comes into the US Open at Chambers Bay on the back of the worst score (85) and four-round total (302) of his career in the Memorial Tournament earlier this month.

But the 14-time major winner, now ranked 195th in the world, was in typically bullish mood in his pre-tournament press conference, insisting he still had the desire to win more tournaments, seven years after his last major victory at Torrey Pines.

"Sometimes you have to make a shift and I did," Woods said of ongoing changes to his swing under consultant Chris Como.

"And (it's) short-term suffering for long-term gain.

"At Memorial, I made another baseline shift, just like I did pre-Masters. And it's rough going through it. Obviously I've got to do it in front of the world and sometimes it's tough. I've got to suck it up and do it.

"The good news is I've done it before in my career, I know what it feels like, I know how tough it is to go through those rounds. But for me, I was very proud how I grinded out those first two days to make the cut at Memorial. And I decided to make another shift at it and obviously shot a high number. But it was a shift in a good way, because now I'm able to hit the ball like I am this week.

"When I've made changes in the past I've struggled through it. I've come out on the good side. I had to make a commitment and I have. And things are starting to come together piece by piece.

"The big change is already in and now it's just refining it and actually now playing more golf, playing more tournament golf because I haven't played that much early in the year. Now throughout the summer, I've got a very full schedule. It would be nice to get back into the realm of playing tournament golf again."

After a practice round with Woods on Monday, Australia's Jason Day hinted that the 39-year-old might lack the motivation to "climb Mount Everest again" due to off-course issues and a lack of confidence.

But Woods, who admitted to sleepless nights after splitting from girlfriend Lindsey Vonn last month, added: "I wouldn't have made the changes if I wasn't devoted to the game of golf and winning golf tournaments.

"I want to be out here. I want to play. I want to compete and I want to win. To me it's so much fun having a chance to win on the back nine on Sunday. There's plenty of times where I haven't gotten it done, but there are also times when I have gotten it done.

"And that's one of the reasons why I've made a few changes here and there in search of becoming a little more consistent.

"This year certainly has been a struggle. But for me to go through what I went through at Torrey (withdrawing injured after 11 holes) and Phoenix (a then-career worst 82), to come back and do what I did at Augusta (finishing joint 17th) gave me a lot of confidence going forward."

Belfast Telegraph


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