LYTHAM, England — Tiger Woods says he is not feeling anxiety about going four years without a major victory but the 206 pot bunkers scattered across Royal Lytham for the 141st British Open give him some concern.
Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record of 18 major titles won by Jack Nicklaus, begins the hunt for his fourth British Open crown on Thursday having not won any major championship since the 2008 US Open.
But Woods, a 36-year-old American, has said he feels he has plenty of time in which to pass Nicklaus, whose last major title came at age 46, and he is not worried about his chances fading despite a rising tide of young contenders.
"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."
In 16 majors since his 2008 victory at Torrey Pines, Woods has missed four majors with injuries, finished outside the top 20 four times, twice missed the cut and six times finished in the top six.
But the fourth-ranked star says he is not impatient waiting to end his major title drought.
"Not at all," Woods said. "I had to go through that whole process of just getting healthy again. Being banged up and missing major championships because of it wasn't a whole lot of fun.
"I figure if I'm healthy then I can prepare properly for major championships and I can get myself there."
Woods, who has a chance to reclaim the World No. 1 ranking this week, has won three times on the US PGA Tour this year, leads the US money list with $4.2 million and now has 74 career US PGA wins, eight shy of Sam Snead's record.
With young new rivals such as Rory McIlroy and Ryo Ishikawa testing him, Woods finds the number of true contenders at majors has jumped since his 1990s "Tigermania" success sparked a new generation of players.
"The fields are deeper and we're having to shoot some pretty low scores," Woods said. "You need to have a hot week at the right time. More guys now have a chance to win major championships than ever before."
Dense rough Woods dubbed "almost unplayable" in patches and deep bunkers that can force chip outs backwards and sideways force precision off the tee and a slight change in wind direction can create a significant change in tactics.
"The bunkers are penal and it's just something that we as players are just going to have to just plod our way around," Woods said. "The rough is certainly in play but it's pretty far off, but the bunkers are definitely in play.
"You have to either carry them and stop it short of the next one or having to skirt past them. So that is going to be a great test this week. A lot of these greens are tough to hit.
"You have to be able to shape the golf ball. You can't just hit it one way. That's one of the reasons the list of champions here have all been just wonderful ball strikers.
That list includes Spanish star Seve Ballesteros, US legend Bobby Jones, South African icon Gary Player and England's Tony Jacklin.
Woods has won three of his past eight starts, including the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March to end a 17-month win drought since his infamous sex scandal erupted. He also won the Memorial in June and the National on July 1.
But Woods has also missed the cut twice in that span, something he has done only nine times in his seven-year career.
His major results this year have also been disappointing given his victories in key tuneup events, Woods sharing 40th at the Masters and 21st at the US Open after he shared the lead through 36 holes only to stumble at the weekend.
"I'm just trying to get better, get more consistent," Woods said.
Woods seeks his fourth British Open title, having won at St. Andrews in 2000 and 2005 and at Hoylake in 2006. Woods shared 25th at Royal Lytham in 2001 and 22nd in 1996, when he matched the 72-hole low amateur record of 281.
"You have a lot of different angles," Woods said. "It tests your ability to hit the proper distances moreso than most links courses."
Nothing demands more than the par-3 first hole.
"Psychologically it is different because you have to be on your game right away," Woods said. "You can't just hit a ball in the fairway any distance you want. You have to hit the ball a precise number."
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