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Gusting winds rippled the roof of the supermarket-sized media tent Tuesday, creating an intermittent thunder impact as Tiger Woods mentioned his sixth — and possibly most vital — Open Championship on these hallowed grounds.
He is aware of simply how laborious this course will be when the climate turns.
“You get winds like we did as we speak, it’s a helluva take a look at,” stated Woods, who gained two of his three Claret jugs right here, in 2000 and 2005. “On 10, I hit a six iron from 120 yards it was blowing so laborious. You don’t have alternatives to hit photographs like that anyplace else. Then once more, in case you get a relaxed day on this golf course, you may see gamers most likely have 4 to 5 eagle putts.”
Woods, 46, has survived greater than his share of private storms, the newest being the rollover accident in 2021 on a steep stretch of Hawthorne Boulevard on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
First, he regained his capacity to stroll. Then, astoundingly, to compete. He has performed in two tournaments this 12 months, ending forty seventh at the Masters and withdrawing after the third spherical of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills, fighting foot and leg ache.
Now, he has returned to his favourite course and feels in addition to he has, post-accident, acknowledging: “My physique definitely can get higher, however realistically, not an entire lot.”
“For essentially the most a part of my rehab, I used to be simply hoping I may stroll once more, , stroll regular and have a standard life and possibly play somewhat hit-and-giggle golf with my son or my pals at house,” he stated.
“However lo and behold, I’ve performed championship golf this 12 months. And as soon as I noticed that I may probably play at a excessive stage, my focus was to get again right here at St. Andrews to play on this championship, [it] being essentially the most historic one we’ve had. I simply didn’t need to miss this Open right here on the house of golf.”
Woods stated the Previous Course is noticeably totally different than when he performed right here for the primary time, as an newbie.
“They’ve lengthened a couple of holes since I first performed right here in ’95,” he stated, noting the modifications to No. 8, the one par-3 on the outward 9, a gap that’s enjoying 13 yards longer than when the Open was right here in 2015.
“As soon as I noticed that I may probably play at a excessive stage, my focus was to get again right here at St. Andrews to play on this championship.”
— Tiger Woods
“I feel each pot bunker has gotten somewhat bit deeper. It’s type of humorous after I look again at among the historic movies of the blokes enjoying out of the Highway Gap bunker, and it actually wasn’t that deep. Now you may’t see the grandstands if you get in there. All you see is obvious blue sky.”
Blue skies may very well be in brief provide this week, with sporadic rains a definite chance over the subsequent couple of days. The forecast requires drier, hotter climate starting Saturday, however foul climate can roll by way of at any level.
“I keep in mind coming round right here my very first observe spherical,” he stated. “I couldn’t imagine how stupidly laborious this place is, as a result of I performed each gap into the wind. ‘The place do you drive these par 4s? This isn’t what individuals say it’s.’ Rapidly it modifications and I see, no, these bunkers are in play.
“It’s wonderful ingenuity that that they had then, that this golf course stood the take a look at of time to one of the best gamers. And so long as we’ve gotten collectively as a discipline, this golf course remains to be a problem.”
Woods has a photograph in his workplace from that first observe spherical, one in all him crossing the enduring Swilcan Bridge on the 18th fairway. Nearly everybody who performs St. Andrews will get a shot like that, and that stone crossing of the Swilcan Burn is the place the legendary Jack Nicklaus gave his farewell to skilled golf in 2005.
“I imply, the historical past and the those who have walked over that bridge,” Woods stated. “I let you know what, actually, now I’ve to be somewhat extra cautious with spikes on that bridge. I don’t have fairly the agility that I used to. I virtually ate it as we speak.”
On Monday, Woods performed a four-hole exhibition with Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Rory McIlroy, and the foursome posed for photos on the bridge.
“To have Lee, Rory and Jack, and simply stand there with them, that’s historical past proper there,” he stated. “These guys are … . I watched them play this Open Championship, waking up, the telecast would come on at 5 a.m. on the West Coast. To get an opportunity to look at them play and to see them hit the photographs … .”
Historically, the Open is performed at St. Andrews each 5 years. Not a shock, however Woods stated this may very well be his final on the Previous Course.
“I’m not going to play a full schedule ever once more,” he stated. “My physique simply gained’t enable me to do this. I don’t know what number of Open Championships I’ve left right here at St. Andrews, however I needed this one.”