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Tiger Woods was merely trying to regain his ability to walk a year ago. He played his final practice round on Tuesday with a smile on his face as he prepared for the historic Open Championship at St. Andrews in Scotland.
The 15-time major winner got back to golf quickly, but it hurt, after he hurt his legs badly in a car accident in February 2021. He made a stunning comeback at the Masters in April, after being away from the game for almost 17 months.
With a rod and pins in his right leg, Tiger Woods made the cut but clearly battled on the difficult Augusta course. The PGA Championship in Tulsa the following month saw him make the cut once more, but he withdrew from the major after the third round after admitting to having severe leg pain. He declared in June that he would skip the US Open in order to give his body “additional time.”
Despite these difficulties, Woods had one specific goal in mind the moment he discovered he could play at a “high level” once more: to compete in the 150th Open at “the home of golf.”
The 46-year-old said to reporters on Tuesday at St. Andrews, “My aim was to get back here.”
The Old Course at St. Andrews is considered to be Woods’ favorite course and holds a particular place in his heart as the site of two of his three Open victories in 2000 and 2005, respectively. The American became one of just five golfers—and the youngest—to accomplish the Career Grand Slam with the first of these victories.
Given that it is a flatter course than Augusta, Woods will find it to be a more accommodating setting, boosted by the conditioning training he has done in the intervening months that has made him feel “a lot stronger.”
Although he had previously used the exact same phrase — “a lot stronger” — before Augusta, Woods was open about the physical difficulties he still has. He made reference to the rugged terrain at St. Andrews.
He intends to take Wednesday off before the event starts Thursday, after playing 18 holes on Sunday and nine each of the next two days.
These are the kinds of challenges that compelled Woods to dramatically cut back his schedule, to the point where he acknowledged he would never again play a full calendar. His only two PGA Tour events this season were the Masters and the PGA Championship, when he made two major appearances. His only preparation for these events was at home.
It’s unclear if Woods will play in the 150th Open at St. Andrews for the final time because the tournament alternates between multiple venues.
So, it would make sense for the three-time winner to play his last Open round on the Old Course, where he first played in the tournament.
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