I started chipping and putting a little over a week ago and I'm full go for the British Open. I'm very confident that my left elbow strain won't be a problem and I will be able to hit all the shots I need to hit. That's why I took the time off, so it could heal, and I would feel comfortable playing again. I'm still taking anti-inflammatory medication for my elbow and getting treatment, but the big thing at Muirfield Golf Club will be to avoid the rough.
This marks my second trip to Muirfield. My first visit in 2002 didn't go very well. I caught the worst of the weather and wound up tying for 28th. That's just the nature of links golf. Luck plays a big part in it, and you never know what you're going to get.
Muirfield is one of the hardest courses in Scotland. The front nine is basically played clockwise and the back nine is played counter-clockwise and on the inside of the front nine. You have to shape the golf ball both ways, and you never know what's going to come off that water as far as wind. It can change directions. If the wind switches, you can be aggressive on certain holes and others you have to be conservative. That's the neat thing about a British Open: You just never know what type of conditions you're going to get each day.
I love the creativity of being able to hit shots and utilize the ground as an asset. That's something that we don't have in the states; we don't really play that game here.
I loved playing links golf right away. My first time over here was in 1995 playing Carnoustie and St. Andrews. That was a pretty good education. It takes a little bit of understanding about how to control the ball on the ground and how much it's going to release that particular week. Some weeks, it releases a lot more than others.
The majority of the fans at the Open Championship understand how difficult some of the shots are. If you hit a 3-iron into a green and wind up 50 feet away, you get pretty good applause because they know how difficult a shot that is.
As far as strategy, it's all dependent on setup. I don't know how fast the fairways are going to be -- if drivers are going to be running out 60 or 70 yards. And will it be hard to control the ball on the ground, or will it be soft and the ball is not running out as much?
Although I have been playing every day, I also have to get back into a competitive feel. The practice rounds are going to be important for how that particular golf course is playing. Whether we're going to need to hit the ball higher or lower, what the conditions are and what the weather is going to be. It's a little different than Florida. I'll just bring an assortment of clothing for any weather.
I was pleased to see the PGA TOUR recently adopt the same rule as the USGA and R&A by banning anchored putting strokes starting in 2016. I think we all should be playing under the same rules. It's a global game, and I believe the TOUR did the right thing.
The AT&T National was a huge success. We raised over $2 million to help even more young people go to college through my foundation's programs. Two of our scholars, Marcus and Elmu, spent a few days at the tournament, and it was fun to show them around. We are so proud of the positive impact this event has had on so many kids in the D.C. area.
Obviously, it was frustrating not being able to defend my title at Congressional Country Club. But we had a great ending and a wonderful champion in Bill Haas. He played a great stretch of holes there on Sunday at 8, 9 and 10, and that basically turned the whole tournament around. He played great coming in.
The Haas family is a great family. I've gotten to know Bill over the years through his dad, Jay. He's one of the guys that was so fantastic to me when I first came out on TOUR. That made it special to have his son win the title.
I would like to thank the staff and membership at Congressional for all their and hard work and support. The golf course was in great shape this year, and it played hard. The guys all said positive things about it. It came down to shooting a couple under par each day, which is what we wanted, and that won the golf tournament. I didn't have anything to do with the setup -- the TOUR handles that.
Next up, my foundation is running the Deutsche Bank Championship in August at the TPC Boston, and we're looking forward to the new experience. The tournament has been fantastic through the years and has been a key contributor to the growth of our education programs. It's been great to work with Seth Waugh and his staff, and we're excited to run the event.
We're also pleased that our World Challenge will continue at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., during the first week of December. We got the support we needed, and it has been a fantastic venue for us. I really enjoy hosting this event every year; it's a fun week and good to be home in Southern California. This tournament basically gave my foundation its start in golf, so for us, it's been our pride and joy.
That's all for now. Hope you are having a great summer, and I'll check back after the British Open.