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Lytham was dry and relatively calm by British standards those two times. This year is different.

A miserable English summer of rain has left the course green and soft, and the rough so incredibly dense that Woods described some spots as unplayable. That much was evident Tuesday morning on the 10th hole, when he slightly pulled his 3-wood into hillocks covered by thick native grass. Six marshals were looking for his ball. Woods simply walked past them _ it was a practice round _ and even when he was on the green, the marshals had not abandoned the search.

Throw in some wind, and the 206 bunkers that give Lytham its character, and it should be a demanding test.

“The rough is more lush. The fairways are softer. The ball is not chasing as much,” Woods said. “This is different. It’s a slower golf course, but still, it has some mounding in it. The bunkers are penal. And it’s just something that we as players are going to have to plod our way around.”

When he won his first Open in St. Andrews at 19-under 269, Woods famously went an entire week without hitting out of the bunker. His third claret jug at Royal Liverpool in 2006 was memorable for the fact he only hit driver once in four days, instead chasing a 3-iron down the brown, brittle fairways.

It looks like he will employ a similar strategy at Lytham, only the sheer number of bunkers make that a challenge.

“This is different,” Woods said. “The bunkers are staggered differently here. There’s some forced carries to where you have to fly it and then stop it or try and skirt past them. You can’t just either lay it up or bomb over the top. There has to be some shape to shots. I think that’s one of the reasons why … the list of champions here have all been just wonderful ball strikers, because you have to be able to shape the golf ball both ways here.”

That’s what Woods takes pride in about his improved game. Lytham figures to be as good of a measuring stick as any tournament.