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Monday, August 8, 2022
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Tiger Woods ready for ‘historic’ return to Old Course at St. Andrews for 150th Open Championship


Officially, Tiger Woods’ prep work for next week’s 150th Open Championship is complete. Unofficially, there’s still plenty to be done.

Woods touched off the two-round JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor in Ireland by shooting 77-74 to finish T39 alongside 2022 US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick. It was an uninspiring performance that also does not mean much in the grand scheme, especially with so much in store over the next fortnight.

Woods said Tuesday that he will stay in Europe for the next several days as he works to prepare for the Old Course at St. Andrews, but he declined to say where he would be playing.

“I do not want everyone coming down and watching us,” Tiger joked.

Might he go play Royal County Down in Northern Ireland, where he famously (and allegedly) failed to break 80 in 2000 en route to winning his first Claret Jug at the Old Course? Or perhaps somewhere even less notable like Tralee where Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler played last weekend in the lead up to this week’s Scottish Open.

Whatever the case, it’s clear Tiger does not have his best stuff right now. He did not look great at Adare Manor, which was not necessarily unexpected. Woods made 10 bogeys and a double over two days in Ireland, countering those with just three birdies and an eagle. That eagle, however, was pretty awesome.

The 14-time major winner has played little in 2022. Four rounds at the Masters earlier – where he limped to a 47th-place finish – and a withdrawal after 54 holes at the PGA Championship constituted the seven professional rounds he’s put together this season. He missed the US Open at Brookline a three weeks ago while continuing to rehabilitate his leg.

“The plan was to play the US Open, but physically, I was not able to do that,” Woods said. “There’s no way physically I could have done that. I had some issues with my leg, and it would have put this tournament in jeopardy, and so there’s no reason to do that.”

This Open Championship is the most important major of the last 20 years. It’s the 150th edition of the world’s oldest significant tournament played at the most consequential golf course in the world at a time when professional golf has never been in a more precarious position.

“This is a pretty historic Open that we are going to be playing,” Woods said. “I’m lucky enough to be part of the past champions that have won there, and [I] want to play there again, and I do not know when they are ever going to go back while I’m still able to play at a high level. I want to be able to give it at least one more run at a high level. “

It’s sobering to think this could be Woods’ last rip at St. Andrews for a major championship, but he’s almost certainly correct. Given how limited his body looked at the first two majors of the year, it’s difficult to envision him contending at an Open Championship at St. Andrews whenever the R&A returns again.

Though there is no date on the schedule for a future Open at the Old Course, but let’s say it goes back in 2027. Tiger will be 51 then. It’s unreasonable to believe he will be even remotely competitive, although it’s almost a guarantee that he will do everything in his power to be in attendance.

“If you asked me last year whether I would play golf again, all of my surgeons would have said, ‘No,'” Woods said. “But here I am playing two major championships this year. I will always be able to play golf. Whether it’s this leg or someone else’s leg or false leg or different body pieces that have been placed or fused, I’ll always be able to play. Now, if you say ‘play at a championship level,’ well, that window is definitely not as long as I would like it to be. “

Nobody knows whether Tiger will be competitive at The Open next week, but it almost does not matter. Just to see him mentally wrestling once again with one of the great riddles in sports will be a treat – one that we may never get to see again.

If for some reason, by some miracle, he does find himself in the mix over the weekend at the Old Course, boy, one of the great majors of the last few decades could turn into one of the great golf tournaments of all time.





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