Tiger Woods is heading back to The Open for the first time since 2015, and even snuck in a few practice holes at Carnoustie Links in Scotland on Saturday before Sunday’s round.
“I have missed not playing The Open in a while because this is our oldest tournament,” Woods told reporters. “And then coming here to Carnoustie, it is special. This is my fourth time playing it as a tournament. From my first time coming here as an amateur to being back now, it’s just amazing how this course doesn’t change. It is right in front of you.
“It’s hard. It’s probably the most difficult one we play in the whole rotation.”
Woods will make his fourth start at Carnoustie on Thursday. He first played the course as a 19-year-old amateur in 1995, getting his first taste of a links course, and then played the course as a pro in 1999 and 2007. He tied for seventh in 1999 and tied for 12th in 2007.
On Saturday evening, Woods got in eight practice holes late in the day, feeling out a course that is expected to play very long and fast in the hot, dry conditions. He teed off at No. 1 and played the first four holes before moving over to the 15th and finishing out the course.
On Sunday, Woods hit 7-irons over 215 yards on the third and fourth tees, with a club he normally hits about 180 yards. Adjusting to the speed of the course — with the fairways running extremely fast — will be a key challenge for the entire field at this year’s Open.
“It is mainly trajectory,” Woods said of adjusting to the course and links play. “You can get the same numbers with different trajectories. That’s what is going to be important, how hot you want the ball coming into the fairways. You can really make the ball roll 60, 70, 80 yards. Is it really worth it or not? Some of the holes, can you carry bunkers? It is a risk/reward golf course, and the way it is set up right now, it is going to play very narrow because it is so fast.”
This will be Woods’ 20th Open appearance, and he has won three times. He missed the tournament in 2008 and 2011 and again in each of the past to years due to back problems.
“We have a long way to go,” he said. “And I have to spend the next few days getting a feel for this type of golf again.”
—Field Level Media