Tiger Woods insists he is ready to contend this week at The Open despite fitness concerns.
The 15-time major champion has been seen straining to walk around the Old Course in practice. Woods has made just two official starts since suffering career-threatening injuries to his leg and ankle in February 2021, two months on from back surgery for a fifth time.
Former Open champion Sir Nick Faldo has written off his chances of a shock win to add to his 2019 Masters triumph. But Woods insisted: “I am feeling good. Game day is Thursday. I am going to pace myself until then and get after it. Hopefully we can put ourselves in contention come the back nine on Sunday.”
Woods was back in action in St Andrews on Monday, playing nine holes in practice before four more in the ‘Celebration of Champions’ event. He was in a fourball with Rory McIlroy, Georgia Hall and Lee Trevino as the American birdied the last after driving through the green at the par 4 hole.
It was his 49th hole in three days of practice despite concerns about his mobility after he used a buggy at the JP McManus Pro-Am earlier in July. The superstar is relishing being back on the Old Course, where he has won previously in 2000 and 2005.
Woods added: “There is nothing else like it. For me I was lucky enough to actually complete the career Grand Slam here in 2000 so it made it even more special. To do it here at the Home of Golf, as Jack Nicklaus said: ‘There is nothing like being champion at the Home of Golf’ – there is no other feeling like it.
Meanwhile, Faldo hasn’t been the only legendary figure to have dismissed Woods’ chances of a 16th career major in Scotland this week. South African icon Gary Player even went so far as to predict the 46-year-old won’t add to his major haul again.
“Do I think he will win another major? No, I don’t think so,” said Player, another of the five players who have lifted all four majors to date, talking to PA News Agency. “Will he win another tour title? Conceivably, yes. I’d love to see him win on the tour again, it would be the most wonderful thing for golf, but I don’t think so.”
That being said, Player left a shred of doubt considering the athlete in question and his record at the elite level. “If anyone deserves to win it is Tiger Woods but for him to win it’s going to not be easy – although you are talking about Tiger Woods.”