Woods finds his Open return a pain in the neck

Zach Johnson is eyeing a second British Open title and a third major trophy. Will Oliver  EPA

The 14-time major victor eventually posted a second successive 71, meaning he shot consecutive rounds at par or better to start a major for the first time since the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he finished joint sixth. "But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back". He has tried to tap into that free-hitting mindset, one where pins were attacked with gusto, rather than the mist of caution which drowned him in the first two majors this year. He's Tiger Woods for a reason. They are the two holes that will nag at the Holywood native but, overall, he should be very content with his solid start to the third Major of the year. I always play well there. Fleetwood has won four times on the European Tour including successive Abu Dhabi Championships, but has never properly shone at The Open, missing the cut three times and finishing tied for 27th past year.

Woods, who said he would not be going out to practise after his round but would instead head for a session in the gym, defiantly promised his fans he would give it all he had. "I've been doing this for years, braces and bandages, just that this time it's actually visible", he said. He qualified for the U.S. Open, but finished with a four-putt double bogey and missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills. Showing great touch on the green, he hit his 30-footer to within a foot and tapped in for another par to remain three shots back of the lead at 2-under. We chatted away. He was nice to me. He hit some incredible shots and just picked his way around the course well.

Then, seeking laughs, Knox concluded, "So yeah, I think it was important to get it out of the way, and next time I'll bury him". So I enjoyed my time out there.

It was a month Knox won't forget.

Rory Mc Ilroy has not won a major title since 2014. Gerry Penny  EPA
Rory Mc Ilroy has not won a major title since 2014. Gerry Penny EPA

While some players thrive and use bad weather to their advantage, the former world No. 1, now ranked eighth, has not coped well when the elements have turned nasty.

Russell Knox, born in Inverness, Scotland, to a Scottish mother and American father, had reached age 33 with the hard feat of two PGA Tour wins and one European PGA Tour win (two weeks ago in Ireland) and a fine world ranking of No. 49 without ever playing in a group with Woods.

Sergio Garcia hit a drive that never stopped rolling on No. 10 until it dropped over the edge of Barry Burn.

Plus, he's exhausted. This was his sixth straight tournament, and 10th in the last 11 weeks.

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"Start up my G5 right now at the airport", he said. Maybe I'll leave Sunday.

Tommy Fleetwood is in contention this weekend to become England's first Open champion since Nick Faldo in 1992.

"I felt like I was really going well".

"In theory, it seems like it's the last Open for me".

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Woods admitted his chances of winning a fourth Open Championship were accentuated by the bare Carnoustie fairways on which he could run the ball to places he could no longer reach on the fly.

Rory McIlroy, the 2014 British Open champion, is in a strong position, too, after going out shortly before 8am and shooting his second successive 69 to go to four-under for the tournament.

Jordan Spieth showed signs of life early in his second round of the Open Championship at Carnoustie, with birdies on No. 3 and No. 5.

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