Tiger Woods gets emotional sendoff from St. Andrews

Jul 14, 2022, 9:27 PM | Updated: Jul 15, 2022, 6:14 pm
Tiger Woods of the US gestures to the crowd at the end of his second round of the British Open golf...

Tiger Woods of the US gestures to the crowd at the end of his second round of the British Open golf championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, Friday July 15, 2022. The Open Championship returns to the home of golf on July 14-17, 2022, to celebrate the 150th edition of the sport's oldest championship, which dates to 1860 and was first played at St. Andrews in 1873. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

(AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — Tiger Woods removed his cap a few strides from Swilcan Bridge, knowing Friday might be the last time he crossed over in a British Open at St. Andrews.

This is where the legends pause, pose and wave goodbye.

“Stop! Stop!” a few photographers cried out as they positioned themselves for another historic moment at the home of golf.

Woods kept right on walking, even as tears began to form in his eyes.

“That’s when I started to realize — that’s when I started thinking about — the next time it comes around here, I might not be around,” Woods said.

He said this wouldn’t be his last British Open. Woods just doesn’t know if his 46-year-old body, battered by multiple surgeries on both legs and his back, would be fit enough to compete when it returns to the home of golf. Woods mentioned 2030. The R&A hasn’t announced the rotation that far out.

Still, the moment was not lost on him.

Woods saluted the thousands of fans in the grandstands on the left, and thousands more who watched from hotel balconies and rooftops on the perimeter of the Old Course, some peering through windows, others without a ticket hanging from the top of the fence on the road down the right side of the 18th fairway.

Rory McIlroy looked over at him from the first fairway — he was starting his second round as Woods was finishing a 75 to miss the cut — and tipped his cap. Justin Thomas was on the first tee and nodded to Woods.

“As I got closer to the green, the ovation got louder,” Woods said. “You could feel the warmth and you could feel the people from both sides. Felt like the whole tournament was right there.”

It may as well have been.

This is where Woods won his first Open in 2000 to become the youngest player to complete the career Grand Slam. He won another claret jug at St. Andrews in 2005, the year Jack Nicklaus finished his major championship career.

No one has ever won an Open at St. Andrews three times, and Woods wasn’t about to change that. The only thing ceremonial for him was his golf — a 78 in the first round, only one birdie in the second round despite the most benign conditions of the week.

No matter. The Old Course, which had been relatively quiet all morning, came to life the closer he made his way to the finish.

“The people knew that I wasn’t going to make the cut,” Woods said. “But the ovations got louder as I was coming home. And that to me was … just the respect. I’ve always respected this event. I’ve always respected the traditions of the game.”

“I put my heart and soul into this event over the years,” he said. “And I think the people have appreciated my play.”

Woods gave them little to celebrate on what might be his final round at St. Andrews. He only had four reasonable birdie chances. His flop shot over a pot bunker guarding the front pin on the 16th hit the top and rolled back into the sand, leading to his third double bogey of the week.

By then, it didn’t matter. The people just wanted to see him.

After he ripped his drive over the Old Course Hotel sign and into the 17th fairway, hotel guests and spectators lined up against the wall in front of the hotel and the Jigger Inn. The grandstand was full behind the 17th, and people stood six deep in the space behind the road and the stands.

It was similar to when Nicklaus played for the last time in 2005. He was 65 and had announced months out it would be his last Open, his 166th and final major. Everyone knew it was coming.

Not even Woods knows his future, only that he was thankful — and lucky — to be playing an Open on the Old Course just 17 months after he crashed his car in Los Angeles and sustained so many broken bones that doctors contemplated amputation on his right leg.

He headed to the 18th tee, the home hole. All he said he could think about was whether to hit 3-wood or 5-wood. But as he walked off the tee and got closer to the bridge, he realized his caddie, Joe LaCava, was lagging behind. So were Matt Fitzpatrick and Max Homa, who rode shotgun for an emotional day involving the best player of their lifetimes in golf.

“It was amazing. It gave me goosebumps,” said Fitzpatrick, who won his first major last month in the U.S. Open. “Just looking around, seeing everyone stood up, and giving him a standing ovation coming down 18. It was incredible. It’s something that will live with me forever.

“It’s thoroughly deserved, and I think towards the end of it, you could see he was a little bit emotional as well. Yeah, it was a big deal.”

Not even Woods could deny that. He just wished he could have written a better ending. He chipped with a mid-iron to about 4 feet for one last chance at birdie, a fitting farewell. Thomas, Shane Lowry and Viktor Hovland were at their second shots to the first hole. They all turned to watch Woods finish out.

He missed the putt.

All that mattered to Woods was an ovation he won’t forget.

“It’s very emotional for me,” he said. “To me it felt like this might have been my last British Open here at St. Andrews. And the fans, the ovation and the warmth, it was an unbelievable feeling, I understand what Jack and Arnold (Palmer) had gone through in the past. I was kind of feeling that way there at the end.”

___

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria (10) celebrates with Mike Yastrzemski (5) after hitting a two-r...
Associated Press

Longoria 2 HRs, 5 RBIs, Giants win 10 of 11, beat Dbacks

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Evan Longoria homered twice and drove in five runs as the San Francisco Giants beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 10-4 Friday night for their 10th win in 11 games. Mike Yastrzemski and Austin Wynns also went deep as San Francisco Giants (79-78) moved above .500 for the first time since Aug. 17. […]
23 hours ago
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws to the plate during the first inning of...
Associated Press

Clayton Kershaw sharp, MLB-best Dodgers rout Rockies 10-1

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clayton Kershaw went six scoreless innings in his next-to-last start before the playoffs and the Los Angeles Dodgers had an eight-run fourth inning in a 10-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night. Cody Bellinger hit a three-run home run, Mookie Betts had a pair of doubles among his three […]
23 hours ago
Chicago White Sox's Josh Harrison jokes with players in the San Diego Padres dugout during the sixt...
Associated Press

Jiménez, White Sox win 3-1; Padres’ magic number still 3

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Eloy Jiménez homered and the Chicago White Sox jumped on San Diego ace Yu Darvish in a 3-1 win Friday night that slowed the Padres’ march toward a playoff spot. Darvish was pushed back a day to give him extra rest with an eye toward pitching in the NL wild-card round, […]
23 hours ago
Iran's national soccer team head coach Carlos Queiroz, in red, watches a training session in Tehran...
Associated Press

Turmoil at home swirls around Iran team ahead of World Cup

GENEVA (AP) — Political issues are swirling around the Iran men’s soccer team amid turmoil on the streets at home just weeks before the World Cup where it will play the United States, Wales and England. At home in Iran, two weeks of demonstrations and a violent crackdown by state authorities have followed the death […]
23 hours ago
Canada's Kayla Alexander, right, attempts to block a shot by Australia's Lauren Jackson during thei...
Associated Press

Jackson caps career with bronze as Australia beats Canada

SYDNEY (AP) — Lauren Jackson capped her storied international basketball career with another bronze medal scoring 30 points to lead Australia to a 95-65 win over Canada on Saturday in the third-place game at the women’s World Cup. Jackson came back to the Opals after retiring in 2016 because of injuries. Jackson said on social […]
23 hours ago
Seattle Mariners' Ty France hits an RBI double off Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Ken Waldichuk...
Associated Press

Mariners’ 21-year playoff wait ends on Raleigh’s walk-off HR

SEATTLE (AP) — Cal Raleigh hit a game-winning home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Seattle Mariners ended the longest playoff drought in baseball with a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night. Raleigh, pinch-hitting for Luis Torrens, hit a 3-2 pitch from Domingo Acevedo (3-4) […]
23 hours ago
Tiger Woods gets emotional sendoff from St. Andrews