Tiger Woods hopes he will be able to play The Open again - even if his emotional outing at The 150th edition proves to be his final Championship appearance at St Andrews.
The three-time Champion Golfer fought valiantly on Friday after struggling to a six-over-par 78 on Thursday but was unable to launch the fightback so many desperately wanted.
A three-over-par 75 was the best the 46-year-old could ultimately muster as birdies rained down around him, bringing the curtain down on his Championship before the weekend.
But despite missing the cut at The Open for just the third time, Woods was given a spine-tingling reception as he walked down the 18th hole at the iconic home of golf.
And having previously intimated this might be his last Championship at St Andrews, where he won two of his Claret Jugs, Woods admitted his emotions got the better of him.
“It is very emotional for me,” he said. “I have been coming here since 1995 and I do not know when the next one will come around. I do not know if I will be physically able to play by then.
“So to me it felt like this might have been my last Open here at St Andrews. And the fans, the ovation and the warmth, it was an unbelievable feeling.
“I understand what Jack (Nicklaus) and Arnold (Palmer) had gone through in the past. I was kind of feeling that way there at the end. And just the collective warmth and understanding.
“They understand what golf is all about and what it takes to be an Open champion here. And I have been lucky enough and fortunate enough to have won this twice here.
“And it felt very emotional, just because I just do not know what my health is going to be like. I feel like I will be able to play future Opens, but I don't know if I will be able to play that long enough that when it comes back around here, will I still be playing?”
Woods provided a moment of hope for the supporters who lined the fairways and packed the grandstands to cheer his every move with a birdie on the 3rd hole on Friday.
But it proved to be a false dawn as bogeys on the 4th and the 6th, as well as a double bogey on the 16th, left the 15-time major winner with far too much to do to make the cut.
Yet a tough couple of days did not diminish Woods’ love of the Old Course. “I always enjoy playing The Open at the Old Course. It is special,” he said.
“Anytime you get the chance to come back and play the Old Course in The Open, it is just special. It really is.
“I have been lucky enough to have been doing this since 1995. And I do not know if I will be physically able to play another Open here at St Andrews. I certainly feel that I will be able to play more Opens.
“But I do not know if I'll be around when it comes back around here. So the warmth and the ovation at 18, it got to me. I felt the guys stop there off the tee on 18, and it was just incredible.
“Just the amount of understanding and respect from all the people that are involved in this event, that come out in support of the players, the nods I was getting as the players were going out.
“I looked over there, and Rory (McIlroy) gave me a tip of the cap. J.T. (Justin Thomas) did the same. It's just there is something to it that is just different.”
And while Woods allayed fears about his possible retirement, the American said the incredible ovation down the last hole did get to him as he reflected on his wins at the venue in 2000 and 2005 and the previous swansongs of fellow icons Nicklaus and Palmer.
“I had a few tears. I'm not one who gets very teary-eyed very often about anything. But when it comes to the game and the passing on of - just the transition,” he said.
“I was lucky enough in '95 to watch Arnold hit his 1st tee shot in the second round as I was going to the range. And I could hear Jack playing his last one. I was probably about four holes behind him. But just to hear the ovations getting louder and louder and louder, I felt that as I was coming in.
“The people knew that I was not going to make the cut at the number I was. But the ovations got louder as I was coming home.
“And that to me was… I felt, just the respect. I have always respected this event. I have always respected the traditions of the game. I put my heart and soul into this event over the years.
“I think the people have appreciated my play in the event. I have won it three times. And to have Peter Dawson say it all three times was pretty neat. Life moves on. And I think that is what people understand and they knew my circumstances this year, of just playing, period.”