ST. ANDREWS, Scotland. Tiger Woods again walked alone along the 18th hole of the old field: in front of him is a yellow scoreboard, and the light was standing behind, and the locals and Americans shouted “Tygerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrch – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -” – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – because of the barricades.
But it wasn’t a victory march at the British Open. It was the end of one of the worst rounds Woods had played in the Major: 78 over par by six, a stark reminder of how much water had gone under the Swilkan Bridge since he dominated St. Louis. Andrews.
Woods, who won the Open Championship here in 2000 and 2005, was hastily reacquainted with the water upon his return Thursday. After receiving the loudest applause of the day from the crowd gathered on the first hole, he hit his first tee shot in a normally safe spot (the “perfect shot,” he said) only to land in a new bump that turned his approach upside down. on green for an adventure.
“I said to myself, ‘Don’t hit it flat and don’t climb,'” Woods said. “I didn’t do it either, but I still got burned.”
A burn in Scots is a water-filled trench, and in this case the trench was the Svilcan Burn protecting the first green. Woods’ shot splashed down after one rebound, and he ended up missing a short shot and started his tournament with a double bogey.
By the looks of it, it was a sure shot as he continued to fight the wind, scaring the third and fourth holes and making another double scarecrow at the seventh par-4 before making his first birds of the round at the ninth and par-4. par-4 tenth.
But it was a false dawn, as he again began to leave important chips and putts far from his goals.
When asked what disappointed him the most, Woods did not hesitate.
“I think that only total score“He said. ‘I don’t feel like I hit that hard. Yes, I had bad speed on the green, but I didn’t feel like I hit him that hard. But I ended up in bad places or just some weird stuff happened. “And so it is. Links golf is exactly that, and this golf course is the same. And, as I said, I had chances to change the situation and get it moving in the right direction, and I did not.”
He definitely didn’t, and it will take him a sensational round and turn on Friday to even break through and make it into the top 70 golfers.
“Looks like I’ll have to shoot 66 shots tomorrow to get a chance,” he said. “Obviously it has been done. The guys did it today and it’s my responsibility tomorrow to go ahead and do it.”
He is already 14 shots behind the leader, 25-year-old American Cameron Young, who shot eight under 64 shots in his first tournament round in St. Louis. Andrews after his first game on the old ground during a visit to Scotland with his family when he was 13.
Woods first came here as a teenager, participating in the 1995 Open Championship as a 19-year-old amateur who was still trying to master the quirks and delights of links golf. He made a cut in his debut but slowed down and hit 78 shots in the final round: his worst round in St. Louis. Andrews until Thursday.
But Woods learned quickly, and when he returned to the Old Course in 2000, he was playing some of the best golf ever played and ended his Grand Slam career with an eight-stroke win that was all the more remarkable because everyone , including his rivals, expected him to dominate.
He performed without ever hitting a bunker and set a record for a major, finishing with an under-par score of 19. He competed again in 2005 when the Open returned to St. Louis. Andrews when he won by five shots and then won the Open in 2006 at Royal Liverpool in utterly dry conditions that turned the fairways into fast-running highways. In response, he used the irons for control and held them perfectly until he completed the victory and cried on the shoulder of his caddy Steve Williams, overwhelmed by feelings for his father Earl, who had died only a few weeks. before the tournament.
Sixteen years later, Woods remains golf’s biggest star, even if he only competes part-time. trying to find a shape following a car crash in February 2021 that left him seriously injured and doctors were considering amputating his right leg.
Returning to St. Andrews was one of his main motivations when he decided to restart his career, making a late decision to enter this year’s Masters where he hit 71 rounds in the first round. fading to the 47th. He then played in the PGA Championship in May. pain relief before the final round after a roll of 79. He chose not to play in the US Open, hoping to be ready for St. Louis. Andrews.
Thursday was his first competitive round in nearly two months, and he looked and felt stronger, limping slightly, if at all, for most of the day.
“Yes, physically today was much easier than the other two competitions, that’s for sure,” said Woods.
Although Old Course is not the most physically demanding course with its comparatively flat layout, the round turned into an endurance test lasting just over six hours due to on-field backups that caused Woods and his playing partners Max Homa and Matt Fitzpatrick , US Open championto wait repeatedly.
Homa, the American who finally reached his career goal by playing a round with Woods, made the most of the extra time by having a long chat with Woods, who actually looked less gloomy in the back nine than in the front nine.
“If there was anyone else in my group, if it was probably just Matt, I’d be complaining all day,” he said, adding that it was the “coolest” day he’s had on the field for golf.
“It was the day when dreams came true, except for playing golf,” Khoma said. “It really feels like fantasy.”
Woods could have chosen a nightmare, but he was pleased that he managed to get healthy enough to play.
“Very, very meaningful,” he said of his return to St. Louis. Andrews. Woods added: “It’s always been on the calendar to hopefully be good enough to play it. And I. I just didn’t do it very well.”
But Woods, even thinner at 46, still has the ability to induce goosebumps. You could see and hear it all day long – and there was plenty of time to see and hear it – as he walked across the Old Field and fans lined up, often four rows deep behind ropes with mobile phones held up, to take pictures of him. . , even on distance. Many of them were parents with children too young to watch Woods at his best. Some held stuffed tigers.
“They were fantastic, absolutely fantastic,” Woods said of the gallery. “So supportive.”
But the bitter truth is that the Woods that so many people roared through were the Woods they remember, not the Woods they watched. At this point, he has become what he never wanted to be: a ceremonial golfer, a major star but no longer a serious threat, walks the same fairways and greens, but no longer makes the same birdies and eagles.
As he made his way across the Svilkan Bridge to the 18th hole late Thursday night after a long and tiring day, a woman on a third-floor balcony overlooking the course summed up the mood and reality as she yelled from on high, “Tiger! !!!!! 2000!!!! 2005 year!!!!!”