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HOYLAKE, England -- Yes, he had surgery on his back just three months ago. And while he returned to competition much earlier than many expected, Tiger Woods still missed the cut at the Quicken Loans National.

But as he makes just his fifth start of the season at Royal Liverpool, Woods' goal is no different than it would have been had he come to The Open Championship at the peak of his considerable powers.

"First," he said when asked what an acceptable finish might be.

So just to clarify, the reporter asked, anything less would be unacceptable?

"That's always the case," Woods said firmly.

In the eight years since Tiger Woods earned that emotional victory at The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, the game's oldest major has essentially run through it's entire rota of courses. Yet, Woods has not added to his collection of Claret Jugs.

Is that something he was aware of, another sportswriter asked.

"Not until now," he said with a smile.

This year, given the surgery, the Open Championship is Woods' first major of the season. He's been stuck on 14 in his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record 18 majors, so returning to a course he dominated in 2006 has got to be a positive as he seeks to win his fourth Open.   

Toward that end, after a sponsor-related trip to Geneva, Woods came to Hoylake a day earlier than he would normally arrive prior to a major championship. He played Royal Liverpool on Saturday and Sunday, then took Monday off.

"Overall, the golf course is a little bit softer than what it was in '06," Woods said. "... I've played three different practice rounds now and have had three different winds. So that's been helpful to see the golf course in different conditions."

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