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Tiger Woods looking to improve putting

With his driver under control Tiger Woods will attempt to bring his putter in line this week at the Western Open in Lemont, Illinois, his traditional Open tuneup.

Making his first start since a runnerup finish to Michael Campbell at the U.S. Open, Woods will have spent much of his time over the last two weeks working on his putting which badly let him down at Pinehurst No. 2.

If not for a disobedient putter, it is likely Woods would have added a 10th major championship to his trophy case at the U.S. Open.

His swing overhaul all but complete, he was the best of the 83 players at reaching greens in regulation at Pinehurst but was third last in the putting charts.

The large, tiered greens on the Dubsdread course at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club should provide the world number one with a good indication at how well his putter is performing.

With over 100 sand bunkers sprinkled across the par 71 layout, Cog Hill also places a premium on driving accuracy and a strong short game, helping to explain Woods three victories here in 1997, 1999 and 2003.

Vijay Singh, who has waged a see-saw battle with Woods this season for the number one ranking, cannot count the Western among his 27 career PGA Tour wins but did finish runnerup to Joe Durant in 1998.

Before missing the cut at the Memorial two weeks before the start of the U.S. Open, Singh had been in scintillating form with two wins, two seconds and a pair of third place finishes in nine previous starts.

A sixth place finish at the U.S. Open followed by a seventh at the Barclays Classic last week indicates the second rank Fijian is back close to his best.

One of the oldest events on the PGA Tour dating back to 1899, the Western attracts a quality field but this year will lack a bit of international flavour with many of the top European players deciding to cross the Atlantic for the European Open, which is being played at Ireland's K Club venue for next year's Ryder Cup.

Winners of the last two PGA events, U.S. Open winner Michael Campbell of New Zealand and Barclays Classic champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland will both be taking part in the European Open along with European Ryder Cup hopefuls Paul McGinley, Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke.

American Jim Furyk, who squandered a three-shot lead with five holes to play at the Barclays, will try to rebound from his late collapse on a course that will favour his accuracy and short game.

Australia's Mark Hensby, who slept in his car in the parking lot at Cog Hill while struggling to earn a regular spot on the PGA Tour, returns to his former residence rated one of the favourites after a solid showing at the U.S. Open.


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