The Open: Woods and McIlroy defend Old Course difficulty that 'still stands test of time'

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Rory McIlroy finds it hard to foresee any player shooting 59 or under at The Open Championship on the challenging Old Course that Tiger Woods says "still stands the test of time".

With a fair forecast in Scotland and the big-hitting stars descending on the final major of the year, many are expecting low scores across the weekend at the 150th Open.

The lowest round ever shot at a men's major was carded by Branden Grace, who managed 62 at Royal Birkdale in 2017.

McIlroy, the 2014 champion, shares the lowest round (63) at The Open at St Andrews alongside Paul Broadhurst, but does not envisage any player carding a sub-60 round.

"Fifty-nine is 13 under par round this golf course. There are 7,300 yards," said McIlroy, who has finished no lower than eighth at the first three majors in 2022.

"It's got greens that are running at 10-and-a-half to 11 [considered medium speed], it's got fairways where the ball is bouncing 50 yards if it's hit and more if it catches the downslope.

"I'll tell you what if someone shoots that [13 under] I will be the first person on the 18th green to shake their hand because they have played outstanding golf."

Woods is no stranger to success at St Andrews, where two of his three Claret Jugs have come, sitting in an exclusive club with Bob Martin, JH Taylor, James Braid and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win two Opens at the home of golf.

The American, who has battled injury struggles and retirement fears to feature at what could be his final St Andrews Open, echoed the sentiments of McIlroy as he outlined the challenges ahead.

"Even with the advancements in technology, this golf course still stands the test of time," Woods said.

"It's still very difficult, and it's obviously weather dependent. You get the winds like we did today, it's a helluva test.

"On 10, I hit a six-iron from 120 yards. It was blowing so hard. So you just don't get – you just don't have opportunities to hit shots like that anywhere else.

"Then again, if you get a calm day on this golf course, you can see some players probably have four to five eagle putts. It is weather dependent.

"The fairways, I think right now, are faster than the greens. So it's funny, when you hit some of the chip shots and some of the bump-and-runs, you have to allow more speed early, then play for breaks when they hit the green.

"Again, with the amount of slope that's on these greens, if they get them too fast, it's unplayable when the wind gets up.

"We saw that when Louis [Oosthuizen] won. We had a wind-out. We don't want that to happen. And it's understandable why they're a little bit on the slower side."

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