ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — As Tiger Woods began his stroll down the 18th fairway of the Previous Course at St. Andrews on Friday, he seen that his caddie, Joe LaCava, and enjoying companions, Matt Fitzpatrick and Max Homa, had stopped behind him.
The trio have been ready for Woods, a three-time Open winner, to cross the well-known Swilcan Bridge. As Woods slowly walked throughout the enduring stone landmark on the “house of golf,” he tipped his cap to the 1000’s of followers who have been cheering for him. Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, who have been strolling down the green of the adjoining first gap, tipped their very own hats at Woods.
“That is once I began to appreciate, hey, the subsequent time it comes round right here, I may not be round,” Woods stated.
All of the feels watching Tiger Woods strolling up No. 18 at St. Andrews 👏
— ESPN (@espn) July 15, 2022
Woods, a 15-time main champion, even wiped away a number of tears earlier than reaching the 18th inexperienced.
“I am not one who will get very teary-eyed fairly often about something,” Woods stated. “However with regards to the sport and the passing on, simply the transition, I used to be fortunate sufficient in ’95 to look at Arnold [Palmer] hit his first tee shot within the second spherical as I used to be going to the vary.
“And I might hear Jack [Nicklaus] enjoying his final one [in 2005]. I used to be most likely about 4 holes behind him. However simply to listen to the ovations getting louder and louder and louder, I felt that as I used to be coming in. The folks knew that I wasn’t going to make the reduce on the quantity I used to be. However the ovations bought louder as I used to be coming house. And that to me was — it felt, simply the respect. I’ve all the time revered this occasion. I’ve all the time revered the traditions of the sport.”
Woods, a three-time winner of The Open, together with twice at St. Andrews in 2000 and 2005, will not be round for the 150th anniversary celebration this weekend. He carded a 3-over 75 within the second spherical, and his 36-hole whole of 9-over was nicely behind the leaders.
Given the R&A’s rotation, The Open most likely will not be again at St. Andrews till 2027, on the earliest, when Woods might be 51. After his spherical on Friday, he acknowledged that it might need been his final Open at St. Andrews — however not his closing one altogether.
“I am not retiring from the sport,” Woods stated. “However I do not know if I might be bodily in a position to play again right here once more when it comes again round. I will have the ability to play future British Opens, sure, however eight years’ time, I doubt if I will be aggressive at this stage.”
Greater than 16 months after he was severely injured in a car wreck exterior Los Angeles in February 2021, Woods stated he did not know when he would play in a match once more. It may not be till late November, when he hosts the Hero World Problem within the Bahamas, which advantages his basis and different charities.
“I’ve nothing, nothing deliberate. Zero,” Woods stated. “Possibly one thing subsequent 12 months. I do not know. However nothing within the close to future. That is it. I used to be simply hoping to play this one occasion this 12 months. And I used to be fortunate sufficient, once more, [to get] three occasions in and so they’re all majors. So I really feel very lucky to have had issues occur this fashion [after] the struggles I have been via to get thus far.”
Woods’ opponents have been hoping it wasn’t the final time they’d see him at St. Andrews.
“I do not know if this might be Tiger’s final one right here,” Scottie Scheffler stated on Friday. “He might have spoken about it a bit, however he’s a reasonably resilient guy and he likes to compete. We’ll see what he has in retailer for us the subsequent few years. Anytime you possibly can see that guy out on the golf course, particularly the Previous Course, it is actually particular.”
England’s Tyrrell Hatton additionally hoped Woods can be again at St. Andrews enjoying once more.
“Whether it is [the end], it will be a reasonably unhappy day,” Hatton stated. “Will probably be a tragic day for golf when that point comes basically. However like I stated, hopefully not. For us as gamers, to have him round is fairly cool. When he bought in that car wreck, [we] did not know if we might have him again. Simply to have him out right here enjoying golf is fairly particular for all of us.”
Woods was requested if he would possibly have the ability to play extra occasions sooner or later, which might permit him to higher put together to compete in majors. After his wreck, he stated surgeons almost needed to amputate his proper leg. It took him a number of months to regain sufficient energy to stroll once more, not to mention swing a driver and stroll 18 holes.
“I perceive being extra battle-hardened, however it’s arduous simply to stroll and play 18 holes,” Woods stated. “Individuals do not know what I’ve to undergo and the hours of the work on the physique, pre- and post-[round], every single day, to do what I simply did. That is what folks do not perceive — they do not see. After which you consider enjoying extra occasions on high of that, it is arduous sufficient simply to do what I did.”
Woods unexpectedly returned to competitors on the Masters in April. He shot 1-under 71 within the opening spherical and made the reduce, earlier than fading on the weekend in chilly climate. He completed 47th, after carding a 6-over 78 in every of the ultimate two rounds, his worst scores at Augusta Nationwide.
In Could, Woods additionally made the reduce on the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He rallied to make the reduce with a 1-under 69 within the second spherical however was pressured to withdraw after 54 holes due to ache in his surgically repaired leg. He shot 9-over 79 within the third spherical, his worst rating on the PGA Championship.
Woods gave the impression to be headed towards one other low at St. Andrews, however he performed a lot better on Friday. He largely prevented the large errors and three-putts that plagued him within the opening spherical, through which he shot a dismal 6-over 78.
“I am just a little ticked that I am not enjoying on the weekend,” Woods stated. “I actually didn’t play ok to be round. I want I might have performed higher. I want I had just a little bit higher break on the first gap yesterday and possibly began off just a little higher. However that is simply sort of the way it all went from there. Simply by no means actually sort of materialized. I fought arduous, and, sadly, I simply might by no means flip it round.”