August 10, 2022

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Who surges, who struggles and who wins on Sunday on the U.S. Open

10:26 AM ET ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — After Tiger Woods ripped his tee shot down...

10:26 AM ET

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — After Tiger Woods ripped his tee shot down the 18th fairway throughout a follow spherical on the Outdated Course at St. Andrews on Sunday, Justin Thomas adopted his ball within the air and stated, “Oooh!”

When Woods’ ball bounded down the sun-baked fairway and bounced excessive onto the inexperienced, Thomas added, “Boing!”

Woods, a two-time winner of The Open at St. Andrews (2000 and 2005), ended up driving the inexperienced, leaving an eagle putt brief and tapping in for his third birdie of the spherical. He additionally had birdies on the par-Four seventh and par-Three eighth, on which he caught his tee shot to about 5 ft.

It was an encouraging begin for Woods, 5 days earlier than the beginning of the 150th Open Championship.

It was the primary time this yr that Woods performed a full 18-hole follow spherical earlier than a significant. On the Masters in April and the PGA Championship in Might, Woods performed nine-hole follow rounds main as much as the tournaments to protect his energy. Woods and Thomas additionally walked 18 holes Saturday evening, chipping and placing alongside the best way. They have been on the course till shortly after 10:30 p.m. native time.

Woods, a 15-time main champion, declined to speak with reporters after Sunday’s follow spherical. He’s scheduled to speak to the media on Monday and Tuesday.

“He was struggling early, however got here on because the day went on,” Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava, instructed ESPN. “That is encouraging.”

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If nothing else, Woods appeared to be having quite a lot of enjoyable earlier than what may be his last begin in The Open at St. Andrews. He has gained the occasion thrice; he additionally gained at Royal Liverpool in 2006.

On the demanding par-4 17th gap, famously generally known as the Highway Gap, Thomas hit his tee shot excessive and proper towards the Outdated Course Lodge.

“Hit a window!” Thomas yelled, earlier than his ball bounced into the garden in entrance of the lodge.

Woods took the identical aggressive line as Thomas on his tee shot, aiming over the roof of the previous railway shed down the proper facet. Woods’ tee shot ended up within the fairway, however then he hit his strategy shot right into a cavernous bunker to the left of the inexperienced. He chipped out to about 2 ft to avoid wasting par.

Earlier than making birdie on the 18th, Woods stopped to take {a photograph} with Thomas, LaCava, Thomas’ caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, and different members of his workforce on the Swilcan Bridge.

Woods, 46, is hoping for higher ends in the ultimate main of the season than he had within the first two he performed. He completed 47th on the Masters, his first official match begin since he was significantly injured in a car wreck outdoors Los Angeles in February 2021. He posted scores of 6-over 78 in every of the final two rounds, representing his worst scores in his profession at Augusta Nationwide.

On the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Might, Woods withdrew after 54 holes due to ache in his surgically repaired proper leg. He carded a 9-over 79 within the third spherical, his worst rating in a PGA Championship.

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Woods skipped the U.S. Open in June due to issues in his proper leg. He had been aiming for The Open all yr. Final week, he performed two rounds within the JP McManus Professional-Am in Limerick, Eire, tying for 39th at 7-over over 36 holes. He additionally performed a follow spherical with Rory McIlroy at Ballybunion in Eire on Thursday.

Woods will play 4 holes with McIlroy, 2018 British Ladies’s Open champion Georgia Corridor and two-time Open winner Lee Trevino in Monday’s Celebration of Champions.

Thomas, who’s taking part in in The Open at St. Andrews for the primary time, stated he tried to get some info from Woods, his shut buddy, on how one can play the course.

“A bit of bit,” Thomas stated. “I perceive he’s going to be a bit of withholding of some info, however I am attempting to needle him and get as a lot off of him as I can as a result of he’s executed fairly effectively round this place.”

When Thomas was requested whether or not he had any doubts about Woods’ probabilities of contending once more this week, he stated, “Undoubtedly not. I’ve realized higher than to problem something about him.”