As he has typically throughout his career, Woods is not offering much in the way of concessions to rust at Royal Liverpool, where he played an 18-hole practice round Tuesday morning after first arriving here Saturday.
A Tiger win at the Open Championship would be a stunner, but if he doesn't pull it off, it's not an apocalyptic moment, either, writes ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski.
Will Tiger Woods employ the same strategy at Hoylake in the 2014 Open Championship that won him the Claret Jug in 2006? "I've been in circumstances like this," Woods said during a 30-minute news conference. "If you remember in '08 I had knee surgery right after the Masters. I won a U.S. Open. I didn't play more than nine holes, and the Sunday before the U.S. Open I didn't break 50 for nine holes and still was able to win it in a playoff, with an [torn] ACL and a broken leg.
Whether Woods will be able to put himself in that position will be of great interest when the Open begins Thursday. The 14-time major champion has played just two competitive rounds since March 31 back surgery, shooting 74-75 last month at Congressional Country Club to miss the cut at the Quicken Loans National.
Woods' game was far from sharp there, and he admitted there remains room for improvement as he continues to get stronger and his swing returns to optimum speed.
"It's getting better," he said. "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 [in March] 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."
Woods spoke on a variety of topics Tuesday:
On his emotional victory here eight years ago, when he won his first major championship after the death of his father, Earl: "My life has certainly changed a lot since then. That was a very emotional week. As you all know, I pressed pretty hard at Augusta that year, trying to win it, because it was the last time my dad was ever going to see me play a major championship.
Tiger Woods was not offering much in the way of concessions to rust at Royal Liverpool, where he played an 18-hole practice round Tuesday. "And then I didn't play well at the [U.S.] Open. Missed the cut there miserably. And then came here and just felt at peace. I really, really played well. On Sunday I really felt calm out there. It was surreal at the time. I've had a few moments like that in majors where I've felt that way on a Sunday, and that was certainly one of them."
On the differences between Hoylake in 2006 and now: "This is a different golf course than what we played in '06. It was hot, ball was flying [in 2006]. It was very dusty. Now, we're making ball marks on the greens, which we weren't doing then.
"When I played on Saturday it was running, it was fast. But on Sunday it just -- with the rain it just didn't move. The balls were checking. It played a little bit longer. I didn't play yesterday, just practiced a little bit. And then today the greens were faster. They were trying to get the greens up by a foot from what we saw on the weekend. And then I think they're very, very close to game speed now."
On making the FedEx Cup playoffs -- for which he likely needs multiple top-three finishes in his next three events to make the top 125 and qualify: "The way this point structure is, you can make up ground pretty quickly with some wins. And if I get in the playoffs, and any time you're in the playoffs, you just win one event and you come out of nowhere to the top five very quickly."