On Tuesday, gusts of wind ruffled the roof of a supermarket-sized media tent, creating an intermittent thunder effect. Tiger Woods discussed his sixth and perhaps the most significant Open Championship in these sacred lands.
He knows how difficult this course can be when the weather changes.
“You’re blowing like we do today, it’s a hell of a test,” said Woods, who won two of his three Claret pitchers here in 2000 and 2005. . You don’t have the ability to do that type of punch anywhere else. Again, if you have a quiet day at this golf course, you will see that the players probably have four to five eagle hits.”
Woods, 46, has been through many personal storms, most recently rollover accident in 2021 on a steep stretch of Hawthorne Boulevard on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
First, he regained the ability to walk. Then, amazingly, compete. This year he played in two tournaments finishing 47th. on Masters and withdrawal after the third round PGA Championship in the Southern Hills, battling pain in my feet and legs.
Now he’s back on his favorite course and is doing just as well as he did after the crash, admitting, “My body can certainly get better, but not much really.”
“For most of rehab, I just hoped I could walk again, you know, walk normally, lead a normal life and maybe play golf with my son or friends at home,” he said. said.
“But, lo and behold, this year I played championship golf. And once I realized that I could play at a high level, I focused on returning here to St. Louis. Andrews will play in this championship, [it] being the most historic we’ve had. I just didn’t want to miss this Open here in the home of golf.”
Woods said the Old Course is markedly different from when he first played here as an amateur.
“They’ve lengthened a few holes since I first played here in 1995,” he said, noting changes to No. during the Open Championship in 2015.
“Once I realized that I could play at a high level, I focused on returning here to St. Louis. Andrews to play in this championship.”
– Tiger Woods
“I think every pot bin has gotten a little deeper. It’s kind of funny when I look back at some of the historical videos of the guys playing from the Road Hole bunker and it really wasn’t that deep. Now you cannot see the stands when you enter there. All you see is clear blue skies.”
Blue skies may not be enough this week, with sporadic showers possible over the next couple of days. The forecast promises drier and warmer weather from Saturday, but bad weather could come at any moment.
“I remember coming here for my very first practice round,” he said. “I couldn’t believe how stupidly hard this place is because I played every hole against the wind. “Where do you drive these fours? It’s not what people say. Suddenly everything changes and I see, no, these bunkers are in play.
“It’s amazing the ingenuity they had back then that this golf course has stood the test of time for top players. And while we’re going as a course, this golf course is still a problem.”
In Woods’ office is a photograph of that first practice round, in which he crosses the famous Svilkan Bridge on the 18th fairway. Almost everyone who plays at St. Andrews gets that shot, and it was on this rocky crossing over the Swilkan Burn that the legendary Jack Nicklaus said goodbye to professional golf in 2005.
“I mean the history and the people who have walked this bridge,” Woods said. “Honestly, now I have to be a little more careful with the spikes on this bridge. I no longer have the dexterity I was used to. I almost ate it today.”
On Monday, Woods played a four-hole exhibition with Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Rory McIlroy, and the four posed for photos on the bridge.
“To have Lee and Rory and Jack and just stand with them is history,” he said. “These guys… I was watching them play this open championship, waking up, the TV show was supposed to start at 5 am on the West Coast. To be able to watch how they play and see how they hit the ball…”.
Traditionally, the Open is held at St. Andrews every five years. Unsurprisingly, Woods said this could be his last occupation at the Old Field.
“I am not going to play full time someday again,” he said. “My body just won’t let me do it. I don’t know how many open championships I have left here in St. Petersburg. Andrews, but I wanted this one.”