The magic of St Andrews was in full evidence as a small group of fans enjoyed the unforgettable experience of walking the Old Course alongside Tiger Woods on the three-time Open Champion’s return to the venue.
On the eve of The 150th Open officially getting under way at the home of golf, the Old Course remained open to the public on Saturday - meaning fans had the freedom to move around the links without restriction and free of charge.
And a captivating scene duly unfolded at approximately 7pm local time as Woods emerged from beside The R&A Clubhouse to refamiliarise himself with a venue he knows so well.
With a few dozen fans – and a handful of dogs – strolling the fairways in the evening sun, Woods and close friend Justin Thomas quickly found themselves the centre of attention as they made their way down the opening hole having opted not to play from the tee.
Many individuals understandably pulled out their phones to capture footage of golf’s most recognisable figure, but others were content to simply walk in the presence of greatness, no doubt grateful that they happened to be in the right place at the right time.
This was an experience unique to the Old Course and St Andrews, with no rope lines required and only a few marshals in attendance as the enthused crowd kept a respectful distance.
Woods initially focused on his short game, perhaps playing to pin positions he expects to see in the Championship as he worked on his chipping and putting.
More fans were given a chance to watch at close quarters as Tiger’s preparations continued late into the evening, but those who walked down the Old Course’s opening hole with him surely had the most memorable encounter.
Woods will play alongside Rory McIlroy, Georgia Hall and Lee Trevino on Monday when The R&A’s Celebration of Champions takes place, before beginning his bid for a fourth Open victory – and a third at St Andrews – on Thursday.