- Senior college football writer
- Author of seven books on college football
- Graduate of the University of Georgia
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Tiger Woods walked across the Swilcan Bridge on the 18th fairway of the Old Course on Friday, possibly wondering whether he had played the final round of his storied career in The Open at St. Andrews.
Woods, a three-time winner of The Open, including twice at St. Andrews in 2000 and 2005, won’t be around for the 150th anniversary celebration this weekend. He carded a 3-over 75 in the second round, and his 36-hole total of 9-over 153 was well behind the leaders.
Given the R&A’s rotation, the Open probably won’t be back at St. Andrews, the “home of golf,” until 2027. Woods will be 51. He acknowledged earlier this week that this could be his final Open on the Old Course, which is why he wasn’t going to miss it.
“I don’t know if this will be Tiger’s last one here,” Scottie Scheffler said Friday. “He may have spoken about it a bit, but he’s a pretty resilient guy and he loves to compete. We’ll see what he has in store for us the next few years. Any time you can see that guy out on the golf course, especially The Old Course, it’s really special.”
England’s Tyrrell Hatton also hoped Woods would be back at St. Andrews playing again.
“If it is [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, to have him around is pretty cool. When he got in that car wreck, [we] didn’t know if we’d have him back. Just to have him out here playing golf is pretty special for all of us.”
Golf fans might not see Woods, a 15-time champion, competing again until late November, when he hosts the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, which benefits his foundation and other charities.
Then again, after Woods was seriously injured in a car accident outside Los Angeles in February 2021, golf fans might have wondered whether they’d ever see him on a course again. Woods said surgeons nearly had to amputate his right leg after the wreck. It took him several months to regain enough strength to walk again, let alone swing a driver and walk 18 holes.
But Woods unexpectedly returned to competition at the Masters in April. He shot 1-under 71 in the opening round and made the cut, before fading on the weekend in cold weather. He finished 47th, after carding a 6-over 78 in each of the final two rounds, his worst scores 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 because of pain in his surgically repaired right leg. He shot 9-over 79 in the third round, his worst score at the PGA Championship.
Woods seemed to be headed toward another letdown 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, in which he shot a dismal 6-over 78.
After his opening drive Thursday landed in a fresh divot, his second shot ended up in a burn in front of the green, which led to a double bogey. On Friday, the first hole was a routine par for him.
Woods admitted Thursday that he struggled adjusting to the speed of the Old Course’s greens, which he said were slower than its fairways. His putting was much better Friday. He narrowly missed a 20-footer for birdie on the second hole. On the third, he made a 25-footer for birdie to move to 1 under in the round.
However, any thoughts of Woods going low in order to stick around for the weekend quickly faded. He gave back a shot when he bogeyed the par-4 fourth hole. After hitting his second shot, Woods immediately slammed his iron on the ground. He had a nice putt from off the green, but then he missed a 3-footer for par.
It wouldn’t be the last approach shot that got away from him. On the next hole, the par-5, 555-yard fifth, Woods’ second shot ended up about 6 feet from the pin. Unfortunately for him, it was the pin for the other hole on the double green. Woods’ ball was 116 feet from the hole he was actually playing. He left an eagle putt 10 feet short and then missed a 3-footer for birdie.
Woods made another bogey when his tee shot on No. 6 landed in a fairway bunker and he had to chip out. It was largely uneventful golf for Woods from there, as he made nine consecutive pars.
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