ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – After an 18-hole Saturday evening stroll on the Old Course alongside Justin Thomas that came to an end in darkness at 10:40 p.m. local time, Tiger Woods made a quick turnaround for his Sunday morning session.
Ten hours later, he went around the entire Old Course once again with Thomas, as the three-time Claret Jug winner began his prep in earnest for the 150th Open starting Thursday. Unlike the night before when he chipped, putted and hit a few wedges over 18 holes, Woods went through his entire bag on a sun-splashed, hot day of rest on his favorite golf course in the world.
After two-time Open champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member Lee Trevino popped out of the R&A building at 8:40 a.m. and asked whether Woods and Thomas needed a fourth, the two went onward and over 5 hours got a feel for the course (it’s already firming up), spent considerable time on and around the greens and dialed in sight lines off the tees.
The only thing Woods didn’t do was talk to the media. He explained he would talk following Monday’s Celebration of Champions, where he is grouped with Trevino, Rory McIlroy and Georgia Hall. He’s also scheduled to meet the media on Tuesday.“Be patient,” Woods said. If anyone knows about patience, it’s Woods.While Woods remained silent, Thomas spoke up.
“It feels like it was a long time ago,” he said of Woods’ withdrawal from the PGA Championship after the third round. Woods, still recovering from a horrific, one-car accident north of Los Angeles that nearly led to amputation of his severely injured right leg, made the cut in the Masters before finishing 47th in his only other start in 2022.
Thomas, who lives near Woods in Florida, did not play a practice round with his good friend after the PGA Championship until Saturday. He did, however, practice with Woods on a few occasions.“This has been the one circled for him,” Thomas added. “He’s excited to be here. Overall, it is a much easier walk that Augusta National and Southern Hills. The Old Course is a lot flatter, but it’s got way more awkward steps, if you will.
“I feel about Tiger being here like I always do: He’s going to find a way to be just fine.”Woods, who ramped up his practice shortly before the U.S. Open, which he decided not to play, has now played 90 holes since landing in Europe: two rounds in the JP McManus Pro-Am earlier this week, another 18 with McIlroy at Ballybunion, and 36 at St. Andrews.
On Sunday, Woods visibly limped most of his way around the Old Course, at times making considerable effort to limit weight on his right foot. His driver was erratic in the early going. His iron play was spot on.Woods started tweaking his driver on the eighth tee to get more spin for his left-to-right drives. He used Thomas’ launch monitor to dial in the specifications. He did some more tweaking on the ninth tee. Seemed to work. He ended his round by driving the par-4 18th, his ball coming to rest 20 feet from the pin.