ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — As Tiger Woods began his walk down the 18th fairway of the Old Course at St. Andrews on Friday, he noticed his caddy Joe LaCava and playing partners Matt Fitzpatrick and Max Homa had stopped behind him.
The trio waited for Woods, a three-time Open winner, to cross the famous Swilcan Bridge. As Woods walked slowly across the iconic stone landmark in the “home of golf,” he tipped his cap to the thousands of fans who cheered him on. Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, walking down the fairway of the adjacent first hole, tipped their own hats to Woods.
“That’s when I realized, hey, the next time it comes here, I might not be there,” Woods said.
Everyone feels comfortable watching Tiger Woods climb No. 18 in St Andrews 👏
— ESPN (@espn) July 15, 2022
Woods, a 15-time major champion, even wiped away a few tears before hitting the 18th green.
“I’m not someone who gets tears in my eyes very often,” Woods said. “But when it comes to the game and the passing, just the transition, I was lucky enough to watch Arnold in 1995 [Palmer] hit his first tee shot on the second lap as I walked to the range.
“And I could hear Jack [Nicklaus] plays his last [in 2005]. I was probably about four holes behind him. But just to hear the ovation getting louder and louder and louder, that’s what I felt as I walked in [this year]. People knew I wasn’t going to do it with the number I was. But the ovation grew louder when I got home. And that was for me – it just felt like respect. I have always respected this event. I’ve always respected the traditions of the game.”
Woods, a three-time winner of The Open including 2000 and 2005 at St Andrews, will not be present for the 150th anniversary celebrations this weekend. He carded a 3-over-75 in the second round and his 36-hole total of 9-over was well behind the leaders.
Given the R&A’s rotation, The Open is unlikely to return to St Andrews until 2027 at the earliest, when Woods will be 51. After Friday’s round, he admitted it might have been his last open at St Andrews — but said it wouldn’t be his last.
“I’m not retiring from the game,” Woods said. “But I don’t know if I’ll be physically able to play here again when the time comes. I’ll be able to play future British Opens, yes, but in eight years’ time I doubt I’ll be able to compete at that level.”
More than 16 months after he was seriously injured in a car accident outside of Los Angeles in February 2021, Woods said he doesn’t know when he will compete again. It could be until the end of November before he hosts the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, which benefits his foundation and other charities.
“I have nothing, nothing planned. Zero,” Woods said. “Maybe something next year. I don’t know. But nothing in the near future. That’s it. I was just hoping to play that one event this year. And again I was lucky enough to [to get] three events in and they are all majors. So I feel very fortunate that things have happened this way [after] the struggles I went through to get to this point.”
Woods’ competitors were hoping it wouldn’t be the last they would see him at St Andrews.
“I don’t know if this will be Tiger’s last here,” Scottie Scheffler said Friday. “He may have talked about it a bit but he’s a pretty resilient guy and loves to compete. We’ll see what he has in store for us over the next few years. Whenever you can see this guy on the golf course, especially the Old Course, he’s really something.”
England’s Tyrrell Hatton also hoped Woods would play at St Andrews again.
“If it is so [the end], it would be a pretty sad day,” Hatton said. “It will be a sad day for golf when that time comes in general. But like I said, hopefully not. For us as players it’s pretty cool to have him there. When he got into that wrecked car [we] didn’t know if we would have him again. To have him out here playing golf is very special for all of us.”
Woods was asked if he might be able to play more events in the future to better prepare for attending Majors. After his wreck, he said, surgeons almost had to amputate his right leg. It was several months before he regained the strength to walk, let alone swing a driver and run 18 holes.
“I understand that I’m more battle-hardened, but it’s hard to just go and play 18 holes,” Woods said. “People have no idea what I’m going through and the hours of work on the body, before and after[round], every single day to do what I just did. That’s what people don’t understand – they don’t see. And then you think about playing more events, it’s hard enough just doing what I’ve been doing.”
Woods unexpectedly returned to competing at the Masters in April. He shot 1-under 71 in the opening round and made the cut before fading in cold weather over the weekend. He finished 47th after carding 6-over-78 in each of the last two rounds, his worst results at Augusta National.
In May, Woods also made the cut at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He rallied to make the cut with a 1-under 69 in the second round but was forced to withdraw after 54 holes due to pain in his surgically repaired leg. In the third round he shot 9 to 79, his worst result in the PGA Championship.
Woods appeared to be heading for another low at St Andrews but he played much better on Friday. He mostly avoided the big mistakes and three-putts that plagued him in the opening round, where he shot a dismal 6-over-78.
“I’m a little mad that I’m not playing this weekend,” Woods said. “I certainly didn’t play well enough to be there. I wish I had played better. I wish I had had a little more break yesterday on the first hole and maybe started a little better going from there. It just never really materialized. I fought hard and unfortunately I just couldn’t turn it back.
https://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/34247696/tiger-woods-misses-cut-finishing-second-round-open-championship-3-over Tiger Woods misses cut after finishing the second round of the Open Championship 3 over