- Bob Harig, Senior Golf Writer
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LYTHAM ST. ANNNES, England -- Tiger Woods made plenty of headlines in the United Kingdom on Monday, although they were dubious at best.
What Woods said in brief comments to reporters Sunday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes and what was reported in the Monday papers concerning his first practice round at the site of the Open Championship were quite different.
After arriving in England early Sunday morning following an overnight flight from Florida, Woods quickly got to the course to begin preparations for the tournament, spending more than five hours on the layout.
During the practice round, he chatted with reporters about the difficulty of the rough and how the course was playing somewhat differently than in his two previous Opens here in 1996 and 2001.
Afterward, Woods walked with a few reporters from the 18th green, fielding less than three minutes worth of questions, the answers shared with those who could not get close enough to hear.
"Oh, my God," Woods said when asked about the rough. "It's just that you can't get out of it. The bottom 6 inches is so lush. The wispy stuff, we've always faced that at every British Open.
"But that bottom 6 inches, in some places it's almost unplayable."
Woods did say "almost."
But that's not how it came out in several places.
The Times of London headline: "Unplayable." Subhead: "Woods gives damning verdict of Lytham after practice round."
The Daily Mail had a back-page photo of Woods, also with a "Unplayable" headline.
The Daily Mirror: "MY GOD after round at 'unplayable' Lytham.''
The Daily Star: "Tiger's torment.''
Woods is attempting to win his 15th major championship and fourth Open title and counts Royal Lytham among his favorite Open venues. He tied the amateur scoring record when he was low amateur here in 1996 and said in other comments that he considered the course to be quite fair.
He never suggested the course itself was unplayable, just certain areas of the rough -- a common trait of major championships.
On Sunday, he spent considerable time studying the contours of the greens, despite playing alone. The weather forecast had something to do with that.
"That's why I did a lot of work out here," Woods said Sunday. "The next three days I might not get any."
Sure enough, it was raining all morning and into the afternoon Monday. Woods did play a practice round, starting at 6:45 a.m. and skipping over to the 18th tee after playing the 15th hole, finishing in the rain.
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