The Open 2013: Tiger Woods elbow injury restricts his Sunday practice

Tiger Woods may insist his injured left elbow should not cause him any trouble during the Open but the world No1 was restricted to nine holes of a practice round on Sunday.

As is customary on the Sunday before the tournament, Woods travelled straight from his private jet to the Open venue after touching down in Edinburgh at 8am. He then hit shots on the driving range for a brief period.

The unusual element of the American's preparation was that he proceeded to play nine, rather than 18, Muirfield holes in the company of Jason Day and Dustin Johnson. Woods's girlfriend, the skier Lindsey Vonn, was also in attendance.

"It's fine. It feels good," Woods said of his elbow. "I took a couple of weeks off and that's why I didn't play and I started practising last week. It felt fine.

"That's one of the reasons I let it heal, so I could go right back at it. I better not push it. The ground is going to be hard over here, obviously. I just wanted to make sure everything was healed before I came over."

Though he displayed no sign of feeling on-course pain, there must be some doubt over Woods's ability to perform to the best of his capabilities. He continues to take anti-inflammatory medication for the elbow strain and warned on his own website on Saturday that playing from Muirfield's ferocious rough would be problematic.

Woods withdrew from last month's AT&T National at Congressional because of elbow pain, which was first apparent during the Players Championship in May. The injury clearly troubled him during his last competitive appearance, at the US Open.

Woods is hoping a dry, fiery Muirfield triggers the kind of performance which saw him win the 2006 Open at Hoylake while using a driver only once in 72 holes. On Sunday Woods played either three- or four-irons from the tees of par-fours and par-fives. "You're kind of hoping for this when you come over here," Woods said. "It's obviously playing a lot quicker than it did in 2002. These fairways have some fire to them. The greens aren't up to speed but I'm sure they will get there. It's been dry over here. This place is firm. We're hitting the ball a long way downwind."

Day, who tied for second at the US Open, explained his hope to mirror the Muirfield approach of Woods. The Australian said he will relish the East Lothian course in its current touch. "I was just seeing what he was going to hit off certain tees," Day said. "The last time he played here was 2002 and the course has obviously changed since then. I think he is going to keep the driver in the bag as much as is possible – the same as me.

"We have to try to get the ball low to the ground because of the wind. I did not hit a driver out there the last two days.

"The dry weather is going to make it a lot tougher. When it rains a little bit the ball just does not run out as far – it will still run out here but it won't run out as far. If you are hitting it into trouble, then it will probably stop sooner than when it is dry.

"You expect some more weather than this. It has been nice. I am praying that it stays like this because I think it makes the course a lot tougher. I know that rain and wind are obviously tough to play in but dry conditions where the ball is running out and it can run out of the fairway. You can get some unlucky bounces.

"There is a little bit of luck you need when playing the Open but you have to really golf your ball around Muirfield."

Rory McIlroy played 18 holes on Sunday while in possession of his latest Nike driver. The Northern Irishman remained in Europe to test new equipment after missing the cut at the Irish Open.

"I went over to London after Ireland, tried a few drivers with different settings and as soon I hit it I said this is the one," McIlroy said. "It feels great."

Powered by article was written by Ewan Murray at Muirfield, for The Guardian on Sunday 14th July 2013 23.04 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © Keith Allison