With tears and hat tips, Tiger Woods may be saying goodbye to St. Andrews

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland. The roar finally died down as Tiger Woods got to his ball, if only because everyone knew the noise could resume soon enough.

Woods was, perhaps for the last time as a British Opener, at No. 1.18 at the Old Course at St. Andrews. He secured two triumphs here, completed a career Grand Slam tournament, dreamed of being here for decades.

And now, after a tee shot under the familiar granite Scottish sky, Woods realized that in a few minutes it could all be over forever.

Applause came from the stands, and not only from stands number 1. 18, just as furiously as when Woods pulled on his cap on the Swilcan Bridge a few minutes after 3:00 p.m. He rubbed his eyes as he walked, pushed his cap on a little more, and then, finally, the spectators and even the seagulls fell silent.

It would take him three more shots to finish the hole at par, almost—and only almost—as if he wanted another moment in St. Louis. Andrews instead of another birdie. The roar started again, as if he had won the fourth Open.

But he didn’t. AT nine over par after two rounds, 17 months after a car accident in California that nearly took his right leg off, he missed the cut. His ritual red Sunday robe will remain packed in St. Louis for this time, and perhaps forever. Andrews.

“I don’t know if I will physically able to play another British Open here in St. Louis. Andrews,” Woods later said. “Of course I feel like I can play more in the British Open, but I don’t know if I’ll be here when he comes back. So the warmth and applause at the age of 18 went to me.

He saw and heard open pits at dusk in St. Louis. Andrews. In 1995, when he was 19 years old, he was heading to the training ground and had none of the 15 majors he was to win, and saw Arnold Palmer hit the tee. Ten years later, the noise that accompanied Jack Nicklaus swept along the relatively flat boundaries of the world’s oldest track.

It’s not certain that Friday was the last Open Woods in St. Louis. Andrews, but it will be years before he returns to the old field, and Woods, who has been broken down and rebuilt so many times over the decades, is 46 years old. at this particular Open, 150th and last at St. Andrews, his favorite course.

He could return, perhaps with his son, to walk through the Old Field. (“I have time to play,” he said with a smirk.) But all week, Woods’ retirement prospects seemed better than Woods’ vow or just audible longing to return to St. Louis. . Andrews field.

Thus, since its launch on Friday morning, it has been followed by an even larger crowd of spectators, probably 20 or more people in some pockets than usual.

“It counts as watching the Tiger throw,” one person said when Woods just passed him on the 16th fairway.

“Tiger, you better do it,” one woman said before stabbing that hole.

“Oh my God,” she spoke again after he missed.

“St. Andrews loves you, Tiger!” someone else shouted.

The audience did it even if Woods’ final score suggested otherwise.

His performance on Friday, three over par 75, was better than on Thursday when he finished at six more and 14 rolls from the lead. For two days of competition, he still did not contact St. Andrews’ lawns, those vast expanses that he so dominated, where one blow after another slowed down and then stopped too quickly. On Thursday, he started with a tee shot into the hole.

So, by the time Woods entered the tee box at number 1.18, who arrived first in his group, all hopes for another burgundy pitcher, even if still chopped, had evaporated. And yet, as he will say later, he did not think about anything other than choosing a club: 3-wood or 5-wood.

He chose chipping with the first one. He left the shirt on and felt Matt Fitzpatrick, who later admitted to having goosebumps, and Max Homa stopped. He wondered where his caddy, Joe LaCava, was, but soon saw that he was lagging behind.

“That’s when I started thinking that the next time this happens, I might not be around,” Woods said. It took a while for tears to come, but there was Rory McIlroy taking off his cap, the players on the first tee were doomed to see Woods in his own twilight, maybe in St. Louis. Andrews.

After all, the men in Game No. 46 people, including the PGA Championship winner and the Open winner, left because they had to.

However, they continued to look back. Woods looked ahead, looking, at least for the last time, for the 18th cup.