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Grudge Match

Tiger Woods bears grudges. Just ask the players (Stephen Ames, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Rory Sabbatini, Fuzzy Zoeller), pundits (Nick Faldo, Peter Kostis, Tom Watson), caddies (Fluff Cowan, Paul Tesori, Steve Williams), teachers (Butch Harmon, Hank Haney), writers (John Feinstein, Alex Micelli), magazines (GQ, Men’s Fitness, Vanity Fair), would-be business partners (Christensen Shipyards, Ltd., The Franklin Mint), and numberless nameless others. Publicly, he usually comes to terms (albeit frostily) with his tormenters, but the truth is, Tiger neither forgives nor forgets. This week, however, he has a score to settle with a pair of nemeses who couldn’t care less how he feels about them—Mother Nature and Muirfield. The last time Tiger took them on, in 2002, he held the Masters and U.S. Open titles and seemed en route to the Grand Slam. Instead he got grandly slammed, when in round three a ferocious squall blew in from the North Sea and wrought havoc with the entire second half of the draw. Double-teamed by the dynamic duo, Tiger blew to an 81, his worst score as a professional. He has not forgotten that humiliation, and we’re about to see whether he can get even. This year the course is playing firm and fast, and the forecast is for four warm, sunny days with little wind—the same conditions as prevailed at the Opens of 2000, 2005, and 2006, all three of them won by Woods.

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