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Tiger spared public rebuke by Open Championship chief executive

Tiger Woods launches his bid for a third straight Open Championship win at St Andrews on Thursday.
Tiger Woods launches his bid for a third straight Open Championship win at St Andrews on Thursday.
  • Open Championship chief exec refuses to publicly rebuke Tiger Woods
  • Peter Dawson refuses to criticize Woods as Augusta National chairman Billy Payne did
  • Dawson says Woods "recognizes some of his mistakes of the past"
  • Woods begins his bid for a 15th major title on Thursday

(CNN) -- The man in charge of the Open Championship has refused to hand Tiger Woods another public rebuke on the eve of the famous tournament at St Andrews.

Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, would not be drawn into condemning the scandal that has dogged Woods since a string of revelations about his private life emerged last year.

Prior to the world number one's appearance at the year's first major -- the Masters at Augusta in April -- Woods was handed a public dressing down by Augusta National chairman Billy Payne.

Payne said Woods had "disappointed all of us," and spoke of how the 34-year-old's future career would now be judged on his "efforts to change" as well as his golf.

The 14-time major winner faced tough questioning at his pre-tournament press conference in Scotland but when asked about Woods on Wednesday, Dawson declined to criticize him.

Quizzed on Payne's statement, Dawson told the UK Press Association: "You'll notice we haven't made such a statement, so I'll just leave that one there.

"I think Tiger regrets many of the things of the past and as he's said, he is trying to put them right, and I believe he is doing it and I believe he's succeeding actually. Let's hope this week is the week he gets his game back."

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Dawson added: "Tiger is watched by so many people and his behavior on the golf course is obviously very important. Tiger's answers to those questions have been welcomed.

"He recognizes some of his mistakes of the past, as I've said, and I'm very happy to see he's doing what he's doing to correct them. It's very good news for the game."

Dawson was also asked about Woods' decision to omit the first and 18th holes from his practice round on Tuesday, thus disappointing a number of spectators who had gathered to watch him.

"I didn't know he had done that," Dawson said. "Tiger prepares for major championships in the way he sees fit. It's not for me to interfere with it.

"I think he started pretty early yesterday, so maybe not too many people would have missed him on the first anyway. But Tiger gives a lot of spectators a lot of pleasure and I'm certainly not going to criticize his practice schedule."

Woods did face criticism from his caddie Steve Williams though, who called his putting "sub-standard". The world number one has employed a new putter for the Open to help him combat St Andrews' slower greens.

And his bag man Williams told the PGA Tour website: "We know the parts of the game he needs to work on. The one part of Tiger's game this year that has been very sub-standard is his putting."

Woods gets his challenge for a 15th major title, and a third consecutive Open win at St Andrews, underway on Thursday, teeing off at 9.09am BST with Justin Rose, from England, and Colombia's Camilo Villegas.