ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – And now he will rest.
Tiger Woods, the 15-time major champion and three-time Champion Golfer of the Year, has played 58 holes in practice rounds and an exhibition ahead of Thursday’s start of the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews. In his only other two starts this year – the Masters and PGA Championship – Woods played 27 practice holes at each event.
But seeing as the Old Course is his favorite track in the world, Woods emptied his tank despite favoring his surgically repaired right leg, ankle and foot, with all three not close to being 100 percent and needing constant attention.
Woods chipped, putted and hit a few wedges over 18 holes on Saturday night with Justin Thomas. He played 18 on Sunday with Justin Thomas, 9 holes more on Monday and 9 more on Tuesday. He also played in the four-hole Celebration of Champions exhibition on Monday.
SPORTS NEWSLETTER:Sign up now to get daily updates in your inbox
TIGER:Woods agrees with decision to not invite Greg Norman to Open Championship
“So that was going to be it for me,” Woods said Tuesday after his practice round. “I’ll take tomorrow off. I’ll practice, keep my feels. But I wanted to get a good sense of how the golf course is going to be playing but also conserve my energy, so that’s why I’m taking tomorrow off. ”
His first-round tee time is 3 pm (local time) alongside Max Homa and US Open champion Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Woods’ first encounter with the Old Course came in the 1995 Open Championship, when he tied for 68th as an amateur. He won his first Claret Jug in 2000 on the Old Course, completing his Grand Slam career, added another in 2005 at the Home of Golf and his third at Hoylake the following year.
“This is where it all began for me as an amateur. My first chance to play in the Open Championship was here. I’ll never forget I played with Ernie Els and Peter Jacobsen the first two days, ”he said. We had a chance to play with some greats in practice rounds – Freddie (Couples), Raymond (Floyd), (Jose Maria Olazabal), Bernhard (Langer). I had a great time as a young little kid, and they showed me the ropes of how to play this golf course and how many different options there were. It was eye opening how this golf course can play as easily as it can be played and also as difficult it can play just by the wind changing.
“This is my sixth Open Championship here. Just to have that experience and have the ability to play here at the Home of Golf is always quite special. ”
So he had a little extra adrenaline pushing him through.
“I’m just trying to get used to the speed of the fairways and getting used to hitting the ball down and also giving more wide berth on shots, allowing for more drift on the wind,” Woods said. “The ball just gets eaten up here when you play on links courses and seaside courses. The air is heavier, and you’ve just got to give it more room. And sometimes it’s just hard to see that and hard to understand. You’ve got to give it a little more 30 yards because obviously it’s going to bounce, it’s going to roll and then it’s going to roll out another 40 yards once it lands. And that’s just with a 7-iron in your hand.
“So trying to get my mind right for that, I’ve been trying to do that, but the only way you can truly do it is actually to get out here and experience it.”
As for his body, it’s good enough to give it a go.
“Well, my body certainly can get better, but realistically, not a whole lot,” he said. “It’s been through a lot, and at 46 you do not quite heal as well as you do at 26. So it is what it is. Just lucky enough to, in our sport, to be able to play as long as we are able to play late into the 40s, especially on left golf courses like this, you can continue into your 50s.
“It just takes a lot of knowledge and understanding of how to play this type of golf. And with the fairways being fast and firm, it allows players who are older to run the ball out there and have a chance. ”