Tiger Woods admitted his latest comeback from injury has been worth the pain to tee it up in the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews.
Woods played his first 72-hole event since November 2020 at the Masters where he thrilled the patrons with an opening round of 71 following leg surgery after a serious car accident in February 2021.
Since then, Tiger has only made one further appearance, the PGA Championship at Southern Hills where he withdrew after 54 holes. He then subsequently missed last month’s US Open to prioritise the JP McManus Pro-Am.
“The plan was to play the U.S. Open but physically I was not able to do that. There’s no way physically I could have done that. I had some issues with my leg and it would have put this tournament in jeopardy and so there’s no reason to do that,” explained Woods which is a testament to the close friendship he holds with JP McManus.
Woods intends to play the 150th Open at the Home of Golf in eight days’ time, the site of two of his three Claret Jug victories (2000, 2005) and he was adamant that the struggle he has put himself through has been worthwhile.
“Yeah, it’s been worth it. It’s been hard. I’ve had some very difficult days and some days which moving off the couch is a hell of a task, and that’s just the way it is. As I said, I’m very thankful for all the support I’ve gotten, my treatment staff, all of my surgeons who are repairing this leg and keeping it,” said Woods who is using a buggy at Adare to preserve his leg for the Open.
“So I have my own two legs, I tell you, I’m not going to take it for granted anymore, some people do. But people who have come close or lost a limb understand what I’m saying, but you have difficult days and also you have great days and first are not what they used to be, that’s for sure. But they are great days in which I can spend with my kids and do things that they can do at a slightly slower pace, but I can still do it with them.”
The fifteen-time major winner holds the Open dearly in his heart having created so many memories, including winning at Royal Liverpool where he famously broke down in tears in the arms of Steve Williams following his first major triumph since the death of his father.
Woods feels that winning the Open Championship at St Andrews is the pinnacle of golf and the history of the event gives it a feeling like no other.
“I think it goes back to, for me, it’s more about history I think than anything else,” said the 82-time PGA Tour winner.
“For me personally, knowing Arnold, when Arnold’s the one who made the British Open what it is and he came over and qualified, finished second, qualified, finished fist, qualified, finished first; if you ever make me qualify, I’m not coming back, so here we are.
“But just look at the names on that and you just go right through time, it’s like a time warp, and just how they put the names on and they start at the bottom and they added the lip and they added the bases and just the little things. And everyone who won that championship, they know how hard it was and looking at some of the scores, I’m thinking, even with a gutta percha, how did they shoot those scores. It’s awfully impressive and to have won The Open Championship and for me specifically to have won at the Home of Golf is even more special.
“As Jack says, your career is not complete unless you’ve won an Open Championship at the Home of Golf, and I feel like he’s correct in that regard.”