Column: Tiger Woods desperately in need of a win in the British Open

  • Article by: TIM DAHLBERG , AP Sports Columnist
  • Updated: July 20, 2013 - 3:50 PM

GULLANE, Scotland — Tiger Woods was actually having a pretty good day, though the fans lining the seventh hole might have thought otherwise. They had the misfortune of having to listen as he unleashed a string of loud expletives directed at himself and a ball that bounced over the green into the rough.

Hardly the way a gentleman golfer at the British Open is supposed to act, even if no one seemed to take much offense. Not with home favorite Lee Westwood on the green putting for birdie in a championship that even on Saturday was already becoming a two-man show within a show.

The two battled back and forth on a breezy afternoon at Muirfield as if the claret jug would be given out at the end to the winner of their match. They traded shots and they traded the lead in a personal duel that seemed destined to end up all even until Westwood birdied the 17th hole to give himself bragging rights for the day and a bit of a cushion going into the final round of a tournament both are desperate to win.

For Westwood, the math is simple. He's 40 now and badly in need of a major championship win to validate a career that has been solid in most other ways.

For Woods, it's a bit more complex. He's trying to recapture whatever it was he once had to win 14 of these things, including three British Opens. The problem is, even he doesn't seem to know just what it is.

They won't be in the final group together because Woods made a bogey on the 17th hole, though it hardly matters. Not to either player, and certainly not to the crowd that has pretty much tuned out Hunter Mahan and a handful of other players bunched on the leaderboard with a chance of winning this thing.

They mostly want Westwood, but they'll settle for Woods. And they fully expect one of them to deliver.

So, too, does the best player in the world.

"I've got 14 of these things, and I know what it takes to win it," Woods said. "He's won tournament all over the world. He knows how to win golf tournaments."

If Woods is to win this one he'll have to make up the two shots that separate the two players. That's something that can happen quickly on the treacherous links of Muirfield, where there were four two-shot swings between Woods and Westwood, including the final one on the 17th.

But there are still questions about Woods' ability to deliver under pressure in a major, something he hasn't been able to do ever since his life changed completely when he was caught up in a sex scandal. It's been five years since he won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, and he's relying on memories that fade a bit more with every one that gets away when he tries to figure out how to win the big ones.

Woods also has never won a major coming from behind in the final round, which he'll have to do to win this one. And then there's the uncomfortable position of having to play in the same group Sunday with Adam Scott, whose caddie was on the bag for Woods in 13 of his majors and who has a publicly testy relationship with his former boss.

If you liked the undercard of Westwood versus Woods, don't miss the main event with Woods taking on Scott and caddie Steve Williams.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge of it," Woods said. "I've been in this position before in the past five years, and I've been in that hunt on that mix. And I'm in it again. Hopefully, tomorrow I can play well and win the tournament."

If Woods does win he may have the third round to thank for it. He's blown up on the weekend in recent majors, including a 76 in the third round that knocked him from contention in the U.S. Open. But he was steady on a brutal course for the most part on Saturday, even taking the lead with a birdie on the second hole, before finishing with a 1-over 72 that left him tied for second with Mahan, two shots back.

It helps that he seldom has to pull his often erratic driver out of the bag on the fast links course. A lot of the success he has had over three days has come using irons off the tee and then hitting shots into safe parts of the green. It's a formula that works under tough conditions, and its put Woods into his best position going into the final round since he came back from the scandal.

Whether it will work on Sunday depends a lot on how the man playing behind him is doing. Westwood says he feels no pressure and he's playing like it. When he did make mistakes in the third round he simply smiled and went about his business, and with 38 wins around the world he's not likely to be intimidated by the thought of Woods chasing him.

"It's enjoyable," Westwood said. "It's where you want to be."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City 7:25 PM
Oakland
NY Jets 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Cleveland 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Tennessee 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Detroit 11/23/14 12:00 PM
New England
Green Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Jacksonville 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Cincinnati 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tampa Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Arizona 11/23/14 3:05 PM
Seattle
St. Louis 11/23/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Miami 11/23/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Washington 11/23/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
Dallas 11/23/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Baltimore 11/24/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
LA Clippers 7:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 9:30 PM
Sacramento
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Tampa Bay 6:30 PM
Toronto
St. Louis 6:30 PM
Montreal
Nashville 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Detroit 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Arizona 7:30 PM
Dallas
Washington 8:00 PM
Colorado
Chicago 8:00 PM
Calgary
Anaheim 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Carolina 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Florida 9:30 PM
San Jose
Texas A&M 53 FINAL
Dayton 55
USC 46 FINAL
Akron 66
Coll of Charleston 57 FINAL
Connecticut 65
Drexel 46 FINAL
Miami-Florida 66
New Mexico 42 2nd Half 13:59
Boston College 47
Penn State 38 2nd Half 17:58
Charlotte 47
Detroit 13 1st Half 8:35
Michigan 13
Eckerd 6:00 PM
UCF
VU of Lynchburg 6:00 PM
East Carolina
Texas 6:00 PM
Iowa
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
NC State
Navy 6:00 PM
Providence
Grambling St 6:00 PM
Purdue
UMass Lowell 6:00 PM
Sacred Heart
Keystone 6:00 PM
St Francis-PA
Niagara 6:00 PM
Saint Peters
Palm Beach Atlantic 6:00 PM
Stetson
Texas Southern 6:00 PM
Tennessee
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
SUNY-Westbury 6:00 PM
Wagner
Bluefield (VA) 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Bob Jones Univ 6:00 PM
USC Upstate
New Hampshire 6:00 PM
Bryant
Fordham 6:30 PM
Maryland
Howard 6:30 PM
Radford
Cornell 6:30 PM
South Carolina
Champions Bapt 6:30 PM
UT Martin
George Mason 6:30 PM
West Virginia
South Florida 7:00 PM
UAB
UC Davis 7:00 PM
Eastern Ill
Fla Atlantic 7:00 PM
Harvard
SMU 7:00 PM
Indiana
Franklin Pierce 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Southern U 7:00 PM
Ole Miss
Brescia 7:00 PM
Murray State
North Florida 7:00 PM
Northwestern
Winthrop 7:00 PM
Savannah State
Fisk 7:00 PM
Tennessee St
New Orleans 7:00 PM
TCU
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
Tulane
Bucknell 7:00 PM
Villanova
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
LSU-Alexandria
Morgan State 7:30 PM
Northern Iowa
Southern Miss 8:00 PM
Alabama
Loyola Marymount 8:00 PM
Arizona State
Syracuse 8:00 PM
California
Idaho 8:00 PM
Northern Ill
Lipscomb 8:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Texas-Arlington 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Fresno State 9:00 PM
Northern Ariz
Pacific Union 9:00 PM
Pacific
Denver 9:00 PM
St Marys-CA
CS-Bakersfield 9:30 PM
San Diego St
Nicholls 10:00 PM
UCLA
Bowling Green 20 FINAL
Toledo 27
Kent State 0 Postponed
Buffalo 0
(12) Kansas State 6:00 PM
West Virginia
North Carolina 6:30 PM
(25) Duke
Arkansas State 8:30 PM
Texas State
Kent State 11/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Texas-El Paso 11/21/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Air Force 11/21/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
San Jose St 11/21/14 8:30 PM
Utah State
Char Southern 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(9) Georgia
South Alabama 11/22/14 11:00 AM
So Carolina
Rutgers 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(10) Michigan State
Minnesota 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(21) Nebraska
Northwestern 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(18) Marshall 11/22/14 11:00 AM
UAB
Kansas 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(23) Oklahoma
Indiana 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Penn State 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
(14) Eastern Ky 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Florida
TX-San Antonio 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
SMU 11/22/14 11:00 AM
UCF
Virginia Tech 11/22/14 11:30 AM
Wake Forest
Washington St 11/22/14 12:00 PM
(13) Arizona State
Louisiana Tech 11/22/14 12:00 PM
Old Dominion
Western Mich 11/22/14 12:00 PM
Central Mich
New Mexico 11/22/14 12:30 PM
(22) Colorado State
Eastern Mich 11/22/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Appalachian St 11/22/14 1:00 PM
Louisiana
Tulsa 11/22/14 2:00 PM
Houston
(15) Arizona 11/22/14 2:30 PM
(20) Utah
FIU 11/22/14 2:30 PM
North Texas
(8) Ole Miss 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Arkansas
Louisville 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Notre Dame
Maryland 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Texas Tech 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Iowa State
(14) Wisconsin 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Syracuse 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Boston College 11/22/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Georgia State 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Tulane 11/22/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Stanford 11/22/14 3:00 PM
California
Western Carolina 11/22/14 3:00 PM
(2) Alabama
ULM 11/22/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
So Florida 11/22/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
Colorado 11/22/14 3:30 PM
(3) Oregon
Fla Atlantic 11/22/14 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Samford 11/22/14 6:00 PM
(16) Auburn
Miami-Florida 11/22/14 6:00 PM
Virginia
Vanderbilt 11/22/14 6:30 PM
(4) Miss State
(19) Missouri 11/22/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
Oklahoma State 11/22/14 6:30 PM
(6) Baylor
(24) USC 11/22/14 7:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Cincinnati 11/22/14 7:00 PM
Connecticut
Boise State 11/22/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 11/22/14 9:30 PM
Washington
Fresno State 11/22/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
UNLV 11/22/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Ohio U 11/25/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(5) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Montreal 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/23/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Webber International 41 FINAL
Florida A&M 52
San Jose St 58 2nd Half 11:54
UC-Riverside 60
Norfolk State 40 2nd Half 13:09
Radford 33
Washington Adventist 4:30 PM
Morgan State
Alabama State 10 1st Half 11:44
Savannah State 22
VA Commonwealth 10 1st Half 14:14
MD-Eastern Shore 5
Southern U 7 1st Half 12:27
Ole Miss 18
Monmouth 6:00 PM
Long Island
Bethune-Cookman 6:00 PM
Jacksonville
St Thomas (TX) 6:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Boston U 6:00 PM
Boston College
Clemson 6:00 PM
(2) South Carolina
(7) Duke 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Belmont 6:00 PM
(12) Louisville
Fla Gulf Coast 6:00 PM
Auburn
Florida 6:00 PM
St Johns
James Madison 6:00 PM
American Univ
Philander Smith 6:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Tougaloo 6:00 PM
Grambling
Virginia 6:00 PM
Xavier
Murray State 6:00 PM
Wright State
Providence 6:00 PM
Hartford
Holy Cross 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
Valparaiso 6:00 PM
Northern Ill
Detroit 6:00 PM
Ohio U
St Bonaventure 6:00 PM
Toledo
Mary Washington 6:00 PM
Navy
Michigan 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Davidson 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
Longwood 6:00 PM
Richmond
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
(17) West Virginia 7:00 PM
Miss State
Concordia-Austin 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Western Ill 7:00 PM
Chicago State
Albany 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Drake 7:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Memphis 7:00 PM
Illinois
Arkansas 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
LSU-Alexandria 7:00 PM
McNeese State
Vanderbilt 7:00 PM
Wisconsin
Utah 7:05 PM
Creighton
Weber State 8:00 PM
Air Force
(10) Texas 8:00 PM
(6) Stanford
Utah Valley U 8:00 PM
Utah State
New Mexico St 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
South Dakota 9:00 PM
Washington
Santa Clara 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close