Woods preparing for Lytham with familiar game plan
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Woods preparing for Lytham with familiar game plan

The last time Tiger Woods won the Open Championship, he wielded a 2-iron to scoot around the trouble at a burnt out Royal Liverpool en route to a third Claret Jug.

Royal Lytham and St. Annes is not very firm and certainly not dry, but the 7,086-yard ballpark is the perfect place for Woods to employ a somewhat similar strategy to win a 15th major. With 206 bunkers and, in his words, "almost unplayable" rough, Woods will need to recall the plan from Hoylake and in 2000 at the Old Course: short and safe is better than long and nasty.

Unlike at Hoylake, however, Woods cannot simply stay short of the trouble on every shot.

''The bunkers are staggered differently here," he said. "There's some forced carries to where you have to fly it and then stop it or try and skirt past them. You can't just either lay it up or bomb over the top. There has to be some shape to shots."

The weather, as always, is expected to play a factor in the championship. While Woods may not have the lucky draw once the championship begins, he feels he did catch a break in his three practice days.

"We've had two different wind conditions over the three days which is good to see a golf course play a bit differently," he said. "It was an adaptation that was nice to be able to make. I'm really looking forward to getting out there on Thursday."

Whether his preparation will end a four-year skid and pull him one step closer to Jack Nicklaus' major tally, Woods is uncertain.

''I just try and put myself there,'' Woods said. ''I think that if I continue putting myself there enough times, then I'll win major championships."

''I just keep trying to work and keep trying to get better. And I've had a few wins this year, which is good. But also I've had a few poor performances, as well. So I'm just trying to get better, get more consistent. And that's something I'm looking forward to in the future.''

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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

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