EIGHT years having passed since Tiger Woods lifted the Claret Jug at Hoylake – and the golfing legend says it feels great to be back in the town that helped him through such a difficult time in his life.

More than 200,000 people are expected to descend on the borough as the prestigious Open Golf Championship returns to Royal Liverpool.

Many will be hoping for a repeat of 2006 when Woods claimed his third Claret Jug in a particularly poignant victory that followed the death of his father.

Back then Tiger said Hoylake was the “friendliest Open he has ever played in.”

And speaking ahead of the start of the 143rd Open, he said he was delighted be back on Wirral soil.

He said: "It feels great to come back to Hoylake and to this event. It meant a lot to me in my life at the time and to come back, obviously there have been a couple of changes they have made to the course since 2006."

Asked what he feels would be an acceptable finish this week, the 14-time major winner simply replied: "First".

And he will not have too long a wait to make his competitive return in the tournament, which gets underway on Thursday.

He will start his first round at 9:04am alongside Argentina's Angel Cabrera and Sweden's Henrik Stenson.

After missing the first two majors of the year following back surgery, Woods said his injury made him appreciate his career and how fortunate he is to have had so much success in his 17 plus years at the top of his game.

Wirral Globe:

He added: "I'm not quite at the level I think I can be at, but I'm pretty darn close."

Woods has been practising on course this week at seems to be in positive spirits ahead of what is sure to be an important milestone for him.

Video courtesy of PA Videowire.