Tiger Woods prepares strategy for 'most difficult' British Open

Carnoustie -Former world number one Tiger Woods much-anticipated return to the Open after a two year hiatus will be a tardy one as his tee-time for Thursday's first round at Carnoustie is 15:21 local time.

Woods had finished T7th behind Scotland's Paul Lawrie in 1999 and T12th in 2007 when Ireland's Padraig Harrington won also in a play-off.

Woods will play the opening two rounds alongside Japanese ace Hideki Matsuyama and the in-form Russell Knox, with the star trio heading to the first tee at Carnoustie at 3:21pm and only five groups behind them.

"This will be my fourth time playing The Open at Carnoustie and looking back when I first came here as an amateur (1999) compared to now it is just wonderful the golf course has not really changed that much".

"It's right in front of you. It's very hard to play short of the bunkers all the time".

"Right now, the fairways are faster than the greens, so I am sure it will be one of those weeks where the fairways will be a little quicker than the greens". That's what is going to be important, how hot you want the ball coming into the fairways. "It is a risk reward golf course and the way it is set up right now, it is going to play very narrow because it is so fast".

The three-time Open victor will play Friday's second round at 10:20 a.m. local time (5:20 a.m. ET).

Johnson has not played competitively since finishing third in the US Open at Shinnecock Hills last month, and the 34-year-old will enjoy the company of Alex Noren and compatriot Charley Hoffman. "The only thing I can control is I. Now, if I do this more efficiently than you, if you get intimidated, that's your own f-- issue".

"So, in saying that it will be a lot of fun".

Since returning from his spinal-fusion operation a year ago, Woods has been depicted as more approachable to the other players; certainly to the young American champions such as Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed, to whom he has apparently become something of a mentor.

"There are different winds to today forecasted for the rest of the week so it will be nice to see the course in different conditions". "This is the oldest tournament we have in our sport". That experience had him downplaying any huge adjustment, but he did admit that "we have a long way to go, and I have to spend the next few days getting a feel for this type of golf again".

"I can't control you", Woods tells the audience.

For the first time, Woods commented on the proposed $10 million, winner-take-all match with Phil Mickelson that has previously been reported but not yet finalized. "It's not there yet, but certainly we are working on it and trying to make it happen". "I'll make the effort to smell the roses".

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