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The Open: Tiger Woods feeling ‘a lot stronger’ but accepting of his limited schedule future



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The 15-time main winner has made a quick but painful restoration to golf since sustaining severe leg accidents in a automobile accident in February 2021, opening with a remarkable comeback at the Masters in April after nearly 17 months away from the game.
Woods made the reduce however — with a rod and pins in his proper leg — visibly struggled with the hilly Augusta terrain. He made the reduce once more on the PGA Championship in Tulsa the next month, however withdrew from the main after the third spherical having admitted to in depth ache in his leg. In June, he announced he would not play the US Open to offer his physique “extra time.”

But regardless of these struggles, Woods had set one clear goal the minute he realized he might as soon as once more play to a “excessive stage” — to play the a hundred and fiftieth Open at “the house of golf.”

“My focus was to get again right here,” the 46-year-old instructed reporters at St. Andrews on Tuesday.

“It is unimaginable, the historical past behind it, the champions which have received right here … this does really feel prefer it’s the most important Open Championship we have ever had.

“This complete yr has been one thing that I am very pleased with … to have the ability to play in these tournaments when it seemed like I’d by no means have this chance ever once more,” he added.

Woods during the JP McManus Pro-Am in Limerick, Ireland, last week.

‘Rather a lot stronger’

Earmarked as his favourite course, the Outdated Course at St. Andrews holds a particular place in Woods’ coronary heart because the host to 2 of his three Open wins in 2000 and 2005 respectively. The primary of those wins noticed the American turn into one in every of simply 5 golfers — and the youngest — to finish the Profession Grand Slam.

A flatter course than Augusta, it additionally presents a extra accommodating setting to Woods, aided by conditioning work within the months since which have helped him to really feel “so much stronger.”

“I’ve gotten an opportunity to work within the weight room and get stronger and get the endurance higher in my leg,” he stated.

“Enjoying Augusta, my leg was not in any situation to play 72 holes. It simply ran out of fuel, nevertheless it’s completely different now.”

Woods holding the Claret Jug after his victory in the 2000 Open.
But he had used that actual phrasing — “a lot stronger” — forward of Augusta, and referencing the rocky terrain at St. Andrews, Woods was candid in regards to the bodily challenges he nonetheless faces.

After taking part in 18 holes Sunday and 9 apiece via the next two days, he plans to take Wednesday off earlier than the event begins Thursday.

“My physique definitely can get higher, however realistically, not an entire lot,” he stated.

“It is the unevenness that’s nonetheless tough on me, I’ve a whole lot of {hardware} in my leg, so it’s what it’s. It is going to be tough.”

A St. Andrews farewell?

They’re the form of difficulties which have compelled Woods into drastically lowering his program, to the extent that he admitted he won’t ever once more play a full schedule. His two main appearances on the Masters and the PGA Championship earlier this yr marked his sole two occasions on the PGA Tour this season, with house observe his sole preparation.

With the Open rotated round a number of areas, it stays to be seen whether or not the a hundred and fiftieth version would signify Woods’ sixth and final St. Andrews look on the main.

Subsequently, to probably play his closing Open on the Outdated Course — the positioning of his debut within the occasion — could be poignant for the three-time winner.

Woods celebrates after his second Open win at St. Andrews in 2005.

“I do not know, whether it is that lengthy [six or seven years], whether or not I can bodily compete at this stage by then,” Woods stated.

“It is also one of many explanation why I wished to play on this championship. I do not know what my profession goes to be like.

“I am not going to play a full schedule ever once more, my physique simply will not enable me to try this. I do not know what number of Open Championships I’ve left right here at St. Andrews, however I wished this one.

“It began right here for me in ’95, and if it ends right here in ’22, it does. If it would not, it would not. If I get the prospect to play yet another, it might be nice, however there is no assure.”

McIlroy ‘can see’ a Woods victory

Quizzed on Woods’ bodily situation earlier Tuesday, Rory McIlroy shared the American’s self evaluation that he felt in stronger form, regardless of enduring difficulties.

“He was transferring higher than I would seen him transfer shortly,” the Northern Irishman instructed reporters.

“Hitting the golf ball and swinging the membership aren’t the difficulty, it is the strolling a part of it that is the wrestle.

“However he appeared to be transferring effectively. Every part seemed fairly good yesterday, in order that’s encouraging.”

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McIlroy is concentrating on his second Open win after triumph at Royal Liverpool in 2014 and believes Woods is in rivalry to seal what could be a shocking fourth ought to sturdy winds proceed into the weekend.

“I feel the best way the golf course is and the best way the situations are, I might definitely see it,” McIlroy stated of a Woods win.

“It is going to be a recreation of chess this week, and nobody’s been higher at taking part in that form of chess recreation on a golf course than Tiger during the last 20 years.”