A tearful Tiger Woods said he may never again get the chance to grace a British Open in St Andrews after missing the cut on Friday with a score of nine-over-par for his two rounds. The 15-time grand winner won two of his three Claret Jugs in the home of golf, but admitted he struggled to run the 18 holes after a bad car accident last year forced him to have emergency surgery on his right leg. The most damage to Woods’ chances of making it into the weekend was done on Thursday when he posted a six-over round of 78 to match his worst-ever start at the British Open.
He optimistically aimed for a 66 to return to the projected cut level of even par on a low-scoring day as overnight rain softened the fast-running fairways.
However, that never seemed like a realistic goal with the physical toll of the crash clearly seen.
“It’s hard to just run and play 18 holes. People have no idea what I have to go through and how many hours I work on the body, before and after, every day to do what I just did,” said Woods.
A birdie on the third raised hopes for the huge galleries that one of the game’s all-time greats could produce a round to remember.
But bogeys on four and six soon destroyed any chance of a rally.
After a run of nine pars in a row, a double bogey on the 16th rubbed salt into the wounds of a painful few days for the American.
Woods still got a standing ovation as he walked onto the 18th fairway and wiped away his tears before completing his round of 75.
“I’ve had a few tears. I’m not one to get teary-eyed very often,” added Woods.
“For me it felt like this could be my last British Open here in St Andrews. The fans, the ovation and the warmth, it was an incredible feeling.”
Questions will now be asked about what the future holds for the 46-year-old.
He belied his physical ailments to make it to both the Masters and PGA Championship earlier this year, but retired from the PGA after a nine-over-par third round.
His world ranking has dropped to 994 as he saves what golf he has left for the majors.
But as a former winner, Woods will be given an exemption to qualify for the British Open until he is 60.
“I don’t have anything planned, zero. Maybe something next year, I don’t know, but nothing in the near future. This is it. I was just hoping to play this one event this year.”
Woods said his experience over the past two days reminded him of the farewell he’d seen Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus in St.
US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, who played alongside Woods, said the scenes on 18 gave him “goosebumps”.
“It was incredible. It’s definitely something that will stay with me forever,” said Fitzpatrick.
“It’s totally deserved and I think by the end of it you could tell he was a little bit emotional too. It was a big deal.”
Scottie Scheffler hopes to become the first player since Woods in 2005 to win the Masters and British Open in the same year.
And the world number one believes Woods’ competitive spirit may yet see him return to St Andrews.
“I don’t know if this will be Tiger’s last here,” Scheffler said. “He’s a pretty resilient kid and he likes competition.
“Every time you see that guy on the golf course, especially The Old Course, it’s very special.”
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