Tiger Woods is having a really bad day at the British Open

Street. Andrews, Scotland – Tiger Woods was walking alone again on the 18th hole of the old field: a yellow scoreboard in front of him and the light fading behind him as locals and American visitors yelled “Tigerrrrrr!” From behind the barricades.

But this was not a winning streak at the British Open. It was the end of one of the worst runs Woods had played in a major tournament: Six on a level 78 was a stark reminder of the amount of water that has flowed under the Swilcan Bridge since his days of dominance in St. Andrews.

Woods, who won the Open Championship here in 2000 and 2005, got into the water quickly on his comeback on Thursday. After getting the loudest round of applause of the day from the crowd gathered at the first hole, he hit the opening tee in a usually safe spot (“a perfect shot,” he said) only to land on a new hole that turned him close to the green on an adventure.

“I said to myself, ‘Don’t hit it hard and don’t slash it,'” Woods said. ‘I didn’t do it either, but I still burned it.’

A burn in Scots is a ditch filled with water, and the trench in this case is the Swilcan Burn that defends the first green. Woods’ shot fell down after one bounce, and he ended up missing a short shot and starting the tournament with a double bogey.

As the omens progressed, it was subtle as he continued to struggle in the wind, penetrating the 3rd and 4th holes and making another double bogey in the 7th 4th turn before making his first birdies of the round in the 9th and 4th turn tent bar.

But this was a false dawn as he resumed leaving important chips and setting well below their targets.

When asked what was the most disappointing thing, Woods didn’t hesitate.

“I think just the overall score,” he said. “I feel like I didn’t hit it that bad. Yes, I had a bad speed on the green, but I didn’t really feel like I hit it that bad. But I ended up in bad places or some weird stuff happened. And that’s the way it goes. Golf Links” Like that, and golf that that way. And like I said, I had chances to turn it over and make it roll in the right direction, and I didn’t.”

He certainly didn’t, and it will take an exciting round and turn on Friday for him to make it to the top 70 of golfers.

“Looks like I’m going to have to shoot 66 tomorrow to get a chance,” he said. “Obviously done. Guys did it today, and it’s my responsibility tomorrow, to go ahead and do it.”

He is already 14 shots behind the captain, 25-year-old American Cameron Young, who hit eight under 64 in the first round of the tournament in St. Andrews after playing his first Old Course during a visit to Scotland with his family when he was thirteen.

Woods first came here in his teens, too, playing the 1995 Open as a 19-year-old amateur who was still able to handle the quirks and magic of links golf. He cut in on his debut but fizzled out and shot a 78 in the last round: his worst round in St. Andrews until Thursday.

But Woods learned quickly, and when he returned to the old court in 2000, he was playing some of the best golf ever, and completing his Grand Slam career with an eight-shot win was more special in that everyone, including his rivals, expected him to dominate.

He delivered, never hitting the dugout and setting a pilot record by finishing 19 under par. Delivered again in 2005 when the Open returned to St. Andrews won with five shots and then followed that up by winning the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in dry conditions that turned fairways into fast-running highways. He responded using irons from the tee for control and kept it beautifully until he finished the victory and cried on the shoulder of the pack, Steve Williams, overwhelmed by his feelings for his father, Earl, who had died a few weeks earlier. before the tournament.

Sixteen years later, Woods is still golf’s biggest star even if only a part-time competitor, still struggling to find shape after the singles car crash in February 2021 that left him seriously injured and doctors considering amputating his right leg.

Back to St. Andrews was one of his primary motivations when he chose to resume his career, making a late decision to participate in this year’s Masters as he shot the opening round 71 before fading to 47th place. He then played in the PGA Championship in May, and withdrew in pain before the final round after shooting 79 Andrews.

Thursday was his first competitive run in nearly two months, and he looked and felt stronger, limping little, if any, throughout the afternoon.

“Yeah, it was a lot easier today, physically, than it was in the other two events, for sure,” Woods said.

While the Old Course isn’t the most physically demanding course with its relatively flat design, the Tour turned out to be an endurance test, lasting just over six hours due to course backups causing Woods and co-playing Max Homa and Matt Fitzpatrick, champion US Open, to wait again and again.

Homma, the American who finally hit a career-long goal by playing a run with Woods, made the most of the extra time, speaking at length with Woods, who actually looked less bleak at the fullback nine than he did at the top nine.

“If there was anyone else in my group, maybe if only he had died, I would have been complaining all day,” he said, adding that it was his “coolest” day on the golf course.

“It was a day that kind of turned out to be true, except for a few golf matches,” Homa said. “It really felt like a fantasy.”

Woods may have chosen Nightmare, but he provided audio content that was able to be healthy enough to play

“Very meaningful,” he said of his return to St. Andrews. Woods added, “This was always on the calendar to hope he was good enough to play. Me too. I just didn’t do very well.”

But Woods, even dwindling at 46, still has the potential to create goosebumps. You could see and hear him all afternoon – and there was plenty of time to see and hear him – as he moved through the old stadium and fans, often four rows deep behind ropes, lined up with their cell phones up high to take pictures of him, even from a distance. Many of them were parents with children too young to witness Woods at his best. Some carried a stuffed tiger.

“They were really cool, really cool,” Woods said of the show. “Very supportive.”

But the poignant fact is that many of the woods were crying out for the forest they don’t remember and the woods they were watching. Right now, he’s what he never wanted to be: a celebratory golfer, a major star but no longer such a big threat, walking the same green fairways but no longer making the same sparrows and eagles.

As he made his way over the Swilcan Bridge toward the 18th hole late Thursday after a long and stressful day, a woman on a third-floor balcony overlooking the stadium summed up the mood and reality as she screamed from the height: “Tiger!!!! 20000!!! 2005!!!!!”

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