Tiger Woods Puts Open Prep Into Overdrive With 36 Holes In 19 Hours

Tiger Woods was a teenager when he came under St. Andrews’ spell. He was charmed by the cerebral golf required to succeed in the cradle of the sport, and he would eventually develop a strategy that helped him hoist a pair of Claret Jugs at the venue.

But if it’s true that you never forget your first love, it never hurts to get reacquainted once in a while. And it appears the 15-time major champion is leaving nothing to chance in this borrowed-time phase of his illustrious career.

Woods, 46, prepped for the 150th Open Championship by logging 36 holes at the Old Course in under 20 hours over the weekend, according to multiple reports (and a mountain of visual evidence in that corner of social media dedicated to stalking his every move).

Playing alongside his frequent practice partner and Jupiter Island neighbor Justin Thomas for both rounds, Woods put his rebuilt right leg through the paces with a more intensive rehearsal than the ones that preceded his starts at the Masters and the PGA Championship.

The first 18 was a Saturday night twilight special. The second 18 came Sunday morning. There were laughs. There were stingers. There were plentiful photo ops and even a requisite snap from the Swilcan Bridge. Woods is clearly soaking up an opportunity that was unimaginable last February, when a violent car wreck cast serious doubt on whether he’d walk again much less play competitive golf.

And while he didn’t grant an audience with the assembled media — he’s due to speak at a formal press conference Tuesday — others in Woods’ orbit could plainly see that he’s aiming to do more than make the cut.

“This has been the one circled for him,” Thomas said. “He’s excited to be here. Overall, it is a much easier walk than Augusta National and Southern Hills. The Old Course is a lot flatter, but it’s got way more awkward steps, if you will.

“I feel about Tiger being here like I always do: He’s going to find a way to be just fine.”

Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio was among the reporters who observed Woods’ practice sessions, and his dispatch included the following note about the three-time Open Champion’s physical appearance:

“On Sunday, Woods visibly limped most of his way around the Old Course, at times making considerable effort to limit weight on his right foot,” DiMeglio wrote. “His driver was erratic in the early going. His iron play was spot on.”

Woods also played a practice round in Ireland with Rory McIlroy last week. The duo took Ballybunion Golf Club for a spin after the JP McManus Pro-Am, where Woods carded rounds of 77 and 74, respectively, in his first semi-competitive appearance since withdrawing after the third round of the PGA Championship in May.