Tiger Woods can't wait for Open at St Andrews, says window 'not as long' for his best golf

Fifteen-time major champion aiming next week to win a third Claret Jug at the 'Home of Golf'

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Tiger Woods says he was determined to make next week’s Open Championship because he wants “one more run at a high level” at capturing the Claret Jug at St Andrews.

The 15-time major champion, who has secured two of his three Open wins at the "Home of Golf", returns next week to the scene of his 2000 and 2005 triumphs, when the sport’s oldest major celebrates its 150th anniversary.

Woods has played in only two full-field competitive events since a life-threatening car crash in February last year, having made a shock return at the Masters in April before then teeing it up at the US PGA Championship in May.

However, Woods was forced to withdraw from the season's second major after the third round, and sat out the US Open last month as he continues his full recovery from serious injuries sustained to his right leg.

However, the American, 46, had always targeted the Open at St Andrews, which takes place July 14-17.

Speaking on Tuesday following the JP McManus Pro-Am in Ireland, Woods said: "The plan was to play the US Open. But physically I was not able to do that. No way physically I could have done that. I had some issues physically with my leg and it would have put [the Open] in jeopardy. There’s no reason to do that.

"This is a pretty historical Open we are going to be playing. I’m lucky enough to be part of the past champions who have won there and want to play there again. I don’t know when they are ever going to go back while I’m still able to play at a high level. And I want to be able to give it at least one more run at a high level."

Last year’s single-vehicle accident outside Los Angeles threw Woods’ golfing future into serious doubt – he conceded as much last November - only for the former world No 1 to return to the Masters and finish 47th.

Woods also made the cut at the PGA Championship, but was clearly struggling with his right leg at Southern Hills before deciding to pull out. At the JP McManus Pro-Am, he used a golf cart at times to get around Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort in County Limerick.

"I’ve gotten a lot stronger since the PGA, that’s for sure," Woods said. "I’ve been able to put in a lot more reps, which is great. I still prefer riding in a cart. I’m doing that here only because I don’t need to push it right now.

"I’ve got a long week ahead of me and all of next week to do that. Save the legs. We can still train as hard as we do each and every day. But as far as duration on my feet, let’s try and keep that to a minimum until we have to. And then when we have to, let’s go."

Asked how long he believed he could be competitive at the Open beyond this year, Woods replied: "If you would have asked me last year if I’d play golf again, all of my surgeons would have said no.

“But here I am playing, and I’ve had played two major championships this year. I will always be able to play golf, whether it’s this leg or ... different body pieces that have been replaced or fused.

"But if you say championship level, that’s a totally different story. That window is not as long as I would like it to be."

Woods won the Open at St Andrews in 2000 by eight shots, in the process completing the career Grand Slam at age 24 - the youngest of the five golfers to have done so. He prevailed again at the Old Course five years later, finishing five strokes ahead of second-placed Colin Montgomerie.

Updated: July 06, 2022, 7:22 AM
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