Tiger Woods has had quite a year.
After his car accident in February 2021, golf fans were unsure if Tiger would ever be able to walk again, let alone tee it up with the best in the world at golf’s four majors.
But Woods returned to competitive action for the first time this spring, making the cut at the Masters to play through the weekend at Augusta National despite clearly being in pain through his final two rounds.
At the PGA Championship a similar scene played out — Woods rallied to make the cut on Friday, but after his third round, he decided to withdraw from the tournament given how difficult it was for him to make his way across the course.
As Woods has said since his car accident, it’s not the golf that is difficult for him, it’s the walking.
But as the Open Championship returns to the Old Course at St Andrews — a course that Woods has long said is his favorite in the world — there is reason to believe that Tiger could hold up better than he has at his previous two major appearances this year.
First and foremost, St Andrews is an easier walk than either Augusta National or Southern Hills, the Oklahoma course that hosted this year’s PGA Championship. Augusta National has long been known as one of the toughest walks in golf, and Southern Hills says it all right there in the name: hills.
“The walk is certainly a lot easier,” Woods told reporters on Tuesday. “I’m able to walk a lot more holes. Also, then again, I’ve gotten a lot stronger since then. I spend more time now that I’ve gotten a chance to work in the weight room and get stronger and get the endurance better in my leg.
“Playing Augusta, I didn’t know. My leg was not in any condition to play 72 holes. It just ran out of gas. But it’s different now. “
Comparatively, walking 72 holes at the Old Course, the site of two of Woods’ three Open Championship wins, should be much more manageable for the 15-time major winner.
Further, as evidence, in the days leading up to the first round on Thursday, Woods has been playing quite a bit of golf.
As the Golf Channel broke down Woods’ practice schedule on Tuesday, it’s clear he’s been putting some work in.
“Sunday I played 18. Yesterday I played nine. Today I played nine. So that was going to be it for me,” Woods told reporters. “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.”
Given his history with the course and his physical condition, it’s possible that this Open Championship at St Andrews might be Woods’ best, last shot at adding yet another major victory to his already illustrious trophy case.
Tiger has said before that he wouldn’t play in a tournament that he didn’t believe he could win. When he hits the first tee on Thursday morning, he’ll have the chance to prove it.