Newly crowned five-time Masters winning Tiger Woods has strongly hinted he will return in July to famed Royal County Down, 19-years on from when he failed to break 80 at the links.
Woods is understood to be interested in Ireland links practice rounds in the week ahead of the 148th Open Championship being staged from July 18th to 21st at Royal Portrush.
It makes sense for the now 15-time Major winner as he’s won two of his three Open Championship Claret Jugs by playing the week prior on the Emerald Isle.
“With the Open this year in Portrush, that’s something we might do and play a couple of warm-up rounds in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“I’ve only been to Northern Ireland once before and that was to Royal Country Down so I’d look forward to going back there.
“I just love travelling to Ireland, it’s fantastic. The people are great and I’ve been there a few times now playing in the Ryder Cup and enjoying being a part of JP’s Pro-Am, and also playing a lot of other great golf courses.
“I love it over there and I’m very much looking forward to Portrush as I’ve never been there.”
Woods first travelled to Ireland in 2000 to contest the JP McManus Pro-Am, bringing with him then fellow Isleworth neighbours Mark O’Meara, David Duval, Lee Janzen and others.
A day after winning at Adare Manor, Woods stopped off at Royal County Down where locals still tell the story of Woods four-putting the first and making the turn in five-over en route to failing to break 80.
Whatever Woods shot at RCD, he used the links experience at St. Andrews to capture a first Open and become the youngest member of golf’s ‘Grand Slam’ club.
In 2002, Woods arrived at the acclaimed Pat Ruddy designed European Club, where amid very tight security, and also ahead of The Open, he set an official course record 67.
Woods returned to Ireland for the 2005 JP McManus Pro-Am and on the day after the event, he and O’Meara ventured by helicopter to join McManus in playing a match at Waterville, where Woods is an honorary member.
Woods was at the K Club in 2006 to send the opening USA Ryder Cup team tee shot into the water, with the Americans soundly thumped on that occasion by a record-setting nine points.
In 2010, Woods was again back in Ireland heading eight of the world’s then top-15 who teed-up at the McManus hosted Pro-Am at Adare Manor.
The sixth staging of the Pro-Am will take place next year on July 6th and 7th and with Woods indicating he will return to the completely rebuilt Adare Manor course.