I'm five years older now, and some of the younger guys, such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, David Duval and Ernie Els, will probably be the odds-on favorites at this year's British Open. But I still think my chances of winning again at Royal Lytham are good. I performed well in the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup. I'm still playing at a very consistent level from week to week on the PGA Tour. And I still have a lot of heart.
Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Hole By Hole
#1 206 Yards, Par Three
Royal Lytham is the only British Open course that starts with a par three, and if you're not accurate with your first swing of the day, you can easily lose a stroke to par. Back in 1996, the first played downwind all four days, but it was still tricky. You're better off going over the green rather than staying short, because you'll have an easier up-and-down.
#2 437 Yards, Par Four
The second looks like a fairly tough hole because of its length and the railroad tracks on the right, which are out of bounds. But the prevailing wind is behind you, the fairway is rock hard, and the hole bends away from the tracks; so it actually plays pretty tame. I hit a long iron off the tee to stay short of the fairway bunkers on the left. That usually left me with a short iron to the green.
#3 457 Yards, Par Four
Although the prevailing wind is also behind you here, the third plays tougher than the second because it's longer and narrower. The landing area pinches in after you get past a fairway bunker on the left 250 yards out. The third green has more movement than others, and there's a back-left pin location on top of a knob that's especially hard to reach.
#4 393 Yards, Par Four
The fourth is short, but if you get careless you can turn a birdie into a bogey. The wide-open tee shot is awkward because it's hard to aim the ball. There are two sand bunkers on the left inside corner and a deep grass bunker on the right that's almost an automatic pitch-out situation. But the green is large and slopes from back to front.
#5 212 Yards, Par Three
The prevailing wind is at your back, but that doesn't make the fifth easy. The green sits on a ridge that slopes sharply away on the right, and there are four bunkers on the left and two more on the right. If your tee shot misses to either side, you'll have a really tough time making a par.
#6 490 Yards, Par Five
The sixth is a reachable par five, and it's a hole you have to take advantage of to shoot a good score. I hit a three-wood off the tee during the first three rounds in 1996 and made easy two-putt birdies. In the final round, however, I hit my tee shot into the trees on the left and had to scramble to save par.