May we be witnessing the top for Tiger Woods at St. Andrews this week, as he performs within the a hundred and fiftieth British Open on the fabled Outdated Course?
What is going to we (and Woods) be feeling when he walks over the Swilcan Bridge after teeing off on the 18th for the ultimate time of the week — whether or not that be Sunday or (heaven forbid) Friday?
Will Woods — at age 46 and with a physique that has been damaged down from surgical procedures numbering in double digits, and 17 months faraway from that horrific automobile crash that just about value him his proper leg — be overcome with emotion realizing it may be his last time making that stroll as a official competitor for the Claret Jug?
Woods has performed loads of issues in his good, record-shattering profession: He has received 82 tournaments, together with 15 main championships, and he has dramatically modified the aggressive and monetary panorama of the sport.
However one factor Woods hasn’t performed is present loads of emotion publicly. Woods not often permits the general public a peek into his soul. Maybe the one true exception to that was 2006, when he received his third British Open at Hoylake simply months after his father, Earl, died, and he collapsed into the arms of his then-caddie Steve Williams in tears.
Woods, although, is an astute historian of the sport. Legacy issues to him. He calls St. Andrews, the place he received the 2000 and 2005 British Opens, his favourite course on the planet. His victory in 2005 on the Outdated Course got here two days after Jack Nicklaus made his last stroll over the Swilcan Bridge as a competitor.
This stuff will not be misplaced on Woods.
Nicklaus, carrying a purple sweater vest over a white shirt with darkish pants and white golf sneakers, stopping to pose on the bridge and wave his proper arm to the adoring spectators and a phalanx of photographers to acknowledge the second is likely one of the most iconic photographs within the sport.
Will Woods pause when he walks over the bridge for the ultimate time of the week?
Solely he is aware of.
One factor that’s sure is that there will probably be at the very least as many photographers when that occurs as there have been in 2005 for Nicklaus.
Make no mistake: Woods cherishes each one in every of his 15 majors, three in need of Nicklaus’ document 18, however he cherishes his British Opens received at St. Andrews probably the most.
“As Jack says, your profession is just not full except you’ve received an Open Championship on the Dwelling of Golf, and I really feel like he’s appropriate in that regard,’’ Woods stated. “It is a fairly historic Open we’re going to be enjoying. I’m fortunate sufficient to be a part of the previous champions who’ve received there and need to play there once more.
“I don’t know when they’re ever going to return whereas I’m nonetheless in a position to play at a excessive stage, and I need to have the ability to give it at the very least another run at a excessive stage.”
That final phrase was a telling one:
Yet one more run at a excessive stage.
Having watched Woods play the Masters in April and the PGA Championship in Might, so clearly compromised bodily from accidents ensuing from the February 2021 automobile crash, the argument could also be made that he has but to indicate true indicators of enjoying at a “excessive stage’’ — if “excessive stage’’ is measured as a stage adequate to win.
Woods — who final performed in that PGA Championship at Southern Hills, however was compelled to withdraw after the third spherical as a result of his physique may deal with no extra — speaks like an excellent athlete who is aware of his finish is close to.
And that’s a bit sobering for these of us who’ve adopted and chronicled his total profession, as a result of it was straightforward to get so misplaced within the superb issues he was conducting that it felt as if they’d go on eternally.
“I do assume he realizes that the top is imminent and loads nearer than he wish to admit, simply reflecting on his efficiency over the past couple of majors,’’ stated shut good friend Notah Begay, now an NBC on-course reporter.
“It could be straightforward to start out Tiger misty-eyed and questioning in case you are ever going to get to see this once more,’’ NBC broadcaster Paul Azinger stated. “Traditionally, that is the place the greats have taken their last stroll. [But] typically, the greats haven’t been injured like this and had their leg look crooked.
“I’m unsure how sentimental it’s going to really feel to observe Tiger play this go-round. I believe personally that he has extra in him. I don’t need to say this can be a swan tune simply but.’’
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