Tiger Woods’ arrival into Northern Ireland has been shrouded in uncertainty. Much to the chagrin of a pair of Irishmen in Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, Woods hasn’t played a competitive round since the U.S. Open in June, where he finished T-21.
Others are echoing the sentiment: How can he possibly show up to a major venue he’s never seen – rusty and with a 43-year-old body he can’t command on demand – and expect to be competitive this week?
In fairness, Woods has spent much of his career only ever playing once between the U.S. Open and The Open. Some years, he didn’t play any in that span.
But even Woods’ expectations for the week were measured when he addressed the media on Tuesday at Royal Portrush.
“[My game’s] not quite as sharp as I'd like to have it right now,” Woods said. “My touch around the greens is right where I need to have it. I still need to get the ball – the shape of the golf ball a little bit better than I am right now, especially with the weather coming in and the winds are going to be changing. I'm going to have to be able to cut the ball, draw the ball, hit at different heights and move it all around.”
Woods’ Open prep so far has included 1 a.m. wakeup calls at his home in Florida prior to the trans-Atlantic flight. After his arrival into Northern Ireland on Sunday morning, he played 18 holes alongside Patrick Reed. Woods played another 18 on Monday with Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, and then played a seven-hole loop Tuesday morning. He isn’t expected to tee it up again before Thursday.
“I've seen enough of [the course] to understand that I'm still going to have to do quite a bit of homework in my yardage book of trying to figure out how I'm going to play each hole with the different winds that are going to be predicted to blow and where to miss the golf ball in the correct spots.”
Woods will begin the quest for his fourth claret jug on Thursday at 10:10 a.m. ET paired with Reed and Matt Wallace.