ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Getting his first look at the Old Course since playing it during the 2010 Open, Tiger Woods was surprised to see green grass and slow fairways after arriving early Saturday morning following an overnight flight from Florida.
Woods played three holes with five area junior players as part of a Nike-sponsored golf training camp.
It was enough to see a far different course than the one Woods won on in 2000 and 2005, as well as the one where Louis Oosthuizen captured the Claret Jug in 2010.
In an interview with ESPN.com and USA Today afterward, Woods talked about having to adjust his game plan after being in the country for less than half a day.
"I was shocked," Woods said. "I had seen photos of it a month ago. It was bone dry. It looked like it was going to be one of those dust bowls again; hard, fast, like the years I've played St. Andrews. It's changed. They got big rain and a lot of sun. It's totally changed.
"I'm going to have to do a little bit of feel around the greens, my putting. I wasn't expecting the firmness to be that soft. We made ball marks on the greens. I don't ever remember making ball marks around this place."
With a forecast that calls for more rain during the week, Woods said. "It's not going to get any faster. It'll be on the softer side for an Open."
Woods is coming off a tie for 32nd at the Greenbrier, where he put together his best tournament in more than a year. He shot a final-round 67 without making a bogey and took away some much-needed confidence.
"I did a lot of work," said Woods, who had bandages over two blisters. "I feel good. Sunday at Greenbrier is probably the best I hit it in two years. That was fun. It sounds crazy when I told everyone at Greenbrier that I felt close, after the scores I shot at the Memorial and the U.S. Open. I just didn't quite have the feel yet. I shifted the baseline so much I just didn't quite have the feel yet.
"I put it together at Greenbrier and hit it really good. [Instructor] Chris [Como] told me it was the first time I led the field in proximity to the hole with my iron game. That was fun. Sunday, I missed one fairway, the 17th hole, which I have never hit in six tries. So that wasn't really surprising.
"I feel like everything's coming around. I still need to get a feel for how this golf course is chasing. I wasn't expecting it to be this soft. The shot selections I was working on last week and some of the trajectories I was envisioning on certain holes and certain winds and the ball chasing and what I need to do to make it move on the ground. It's going to be different. It's going to be more forced carries than I was expecting coming into the event."
The Open will be without No. 1-ranked Rory McIlroy, who suffered a ruptured ligament in his left ankle while playing soccer with friends on July 4 and announced Wednesday that he would not be defending his title at the Open.
"He sent me a photo the day he did it," Woods said of McIlrory. "We talked about it for a little bit. He said, 'You've been through a lot of injuries over the years.' So he picked my brain a little bit. We had a good talk.
"He's doing the right thing, taking care of his body first before he gets back out here. No doubt, he's frustrated that he's not going to be able to play in the Open Championship, especially here at St. Andrews. And how well he's been playing of late, and this golf course really does set up well for him, too. That's the way it goes. We all get injured at one point in time. Sometimes it's through the sport or sometimes it's through fun activities. You just never know."