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Faldo: All eyes on Woods
Nick Faldo believes Tiger Woods will provide compelling viewing at Hoylake next week, whether he produces good, bad or ugly golf.
Woods won his third Claret Jug the last time the Open was staged at Royal Liverpool in 2006, but has not tasted victory in a major since the 2008 US Open and only returned to action last month following back surgery on March 31.
And even though the former world number one missed the cut in the Quicken Loans National at Congressional and has not played competitively since, Faldo will be watching the 14-time major winner with interest when he is not competing himself.
"Tiger is the most compelling golfer in the world. You want to watch and study everything, good, bad, ugly and everything in between," three-time Open champion Faldo said.
"It's amazing that he's played two rounds of golf and he's the favourite. Incredible. If he feels he's come with the right game plan, we shall see.
"It's a tough game to play when you are rusty. You learn from every day, you pick something up. It's not so easy for him, he's nearly 39. But he's Tiger, you never know what he's going to do."
Woods famously only used his driver once in 2006, working out in practice that for all the extra distance it could give him, what mattered on the rock-hard links was position and precision, not power.
The same conditions are not expected next week but Faldo believes many players will still adopt similar tactics as Woods did eight years ago.
"I'm sure it will be narrow, I'm sure the rough will be thick and I'm sure there will be a little breeze," Faldo, who will celebrate his 57th birthday on Friday, told BBC radio.
"There are dozens of bunkers left and right, they put them in so many spots. It takes the driver out of the bag for most of the long hitters."
Faldo spends most of his time as a television commentator these days but returned to the Open after a two-year absence at Muirfield 12 months ago and prepared for Hoylake by playing the Greenbrier Classic on the PGA Tour and this week's Scottish Open.
The six-time major winner missed the cut in both events, but was going well in the second round at Royal Aberdeen before a poor back nine saw him miss out by two shots.
"It's good exercise. It's burning good calories and I'm curious to see what I could do," Faldo said. "It's a tough game to do a fast-track to become a golfer again. On the downwind holes I was motoring along nicely but I made a couple of bad swings and you lose your trust completely."