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Woods returned to the scene of two of his most famous major triumphs this week to great anticipation, but the 46-year-old, who is still recovering from a serious car crash last year, struggled to produce anything like the form that won him the Claret Jug at the home of golf in the early 2000s.
His website, tigerwoods.com, produces regular blog posts following his endeavours and the article, by American golf journalist Dan Rapaport, described this week as being “circled on his calendar since before he could walk again”.
But the account of Woods’ difficult day in Scotland held nothing back as it described his travails.
“It started promisingly enough, with Woods flushing a long iron into the center of the expansive first fairway,” it read, “only for his ball to rest in a fresh, sandy divot. Not five minutes later, a proper buzzkill: Woods’ approach one-hopped into the burn guarding the front of the green, he blocked a four-footer for bogey, and this never really happened at all.”
The report went on: “Woods played his first seven holes in six over par to eject himself from relevance in his 22nd Open Championship start and needed to play his final 10 holes in one-under par to salvage a barely respectable six-over 78.”
The report also criticised the slow play which was a feature of the opening round, with some players including US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick complaining about taking more than six hours to complete their 18 holes.
“Woods’ unraveling happened quickly; the rest of the round did not,” his website explained. “The threesome of Woods, Max Homa and Matt Fitzpatrick needed six hours and nine minutes to finish their rounds, and it had nothing to do with any of the three—the Old Course’s firm conditions, criss-cross routing and adjacent-holes layout turned Thursday into a slog for virtually the entire field. It was a struggle for the healthy 26-year-olds; for a 46-year-old with a fused back and significant hardware holding his right leg together, being on your feet for that long is a worst-case scenario.
“Still, Woods did not look to struggle physically throughout the round and walked mostly without a limp.”
It went on to suggest Woods’ score was down to a lack of match sharpness.
”Playing well in practice and on the range does not equate to playing well on the course, and manufacturing a score in competition is made exponentially more difficult when you simply do not play very often. This, of course, is just Woods’ third tournament of 2022 and his third since the single-car accident that nearly cost him his leg. Woods has struggled with his short game in his limited play this year, and he putted horribly on Thursday, by his and by anyone’s standards. It started on the first hole and continued throughout the lengthy afternoon; Woods’ lag putting was rather poor, as he struggled to get the ball to the hole on the slower and bumpy surfaces. He three-putted the fourth hole, the 11th, the 13th and failed to two-putt from the Valley of Sin just short of the 18th green.”
Woods was back out on the course on Friday morning as he looked to pull off a miracle escape to make the cut. Fellow American Cameron Young led overnight with the pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy two shots back.