Tiger, we hope to see you at St Andrews again
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 15, 2022
I was fortunate enough to witness in person Tiger Woods’ famous six-iron out of the bunker and over water on the 18th hole in the 2000 Canadian Open at Glen Abbey.
“I keep telling everybody I didn’t hit the green. I hit it over the green. It wasn’t really that good,” said Woods afterwards.
It was that good, especially since it led to Tiger’s ninth win of the season to join Lee Trevino as the only players ever to take the Triple Crown by winning the U.S. Open, Open Championship and Canadian Open in the same season.
Since that happened 22 years ago, Tiger’s majors won counter has clicked to 15, he’s reached milestones and made memories, but like many of us over two-plus decades, he was a different person strolling up 18 at St Andrews on Friday at the Open Championship.
The Tiger glare at one of his opponents is nothing to fear anymore, nor are the distractions of the giant crowds that follow Woods around the golf course. As a matter of fact, Max Homa couldn’t wait to play with his idol in the first two rounds.
I’m playing with Tiger Woods at the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews. Hey golf gods, we’re even. Can’t believe this is real and ya it’s corny but who cares I’m playing with the freakin 🐐 #golf #PVO
— max homa (@maxhoma23) July 12, 2022
There was no talk of this being Tiger, so making the cut is always possible. Woods shot a second round 75 and at nine under and missed playing the weekend at an iconic course where he had won the Claret Jug twice.
After all of his surgeries over the years and a car accident that almost caused him to lose a leg, Tiger Woods physically is not the guy who made so many memories on the golf course such as the one at Glen Abbey in 2000.
That doesn’t mean, however, that he isn’t capable of making memories in different ways. The reaction he received from the crowd as he finished his second round on Friday was similar to previous marches by the game’s greats up 18, bringing Woods to tears.
“it’s very emotional for me. I’ve been coming here since 1995. I think the next (Open Championship) comes around in what, 2030 and I don’t know if I will be physically able to play by then, so to me it felt like this might have been my last British Open here at St Andrews and the fans, the ovation and the warmth, it was an unbelievable feeling,” said Woods.
‘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’s all about and what it takes to be an Open champion,” he said.
“I’ve been lucky enough and fortunate enough to have won this twice here and it felt very emotional, just because I just don’t know what my health is going to be like and I feel like I will be able to play future British Opens, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to play that long enough that when it comes back around here, will I still be playing?” added Woods.
It was obviously an emotional moment for the knowledgable fans at the Old Course, as well, who weren’t offering their appreciation for the money Tiger has won over the years, but his accomplishments on the golf course.
Although I am disappointed to be heading home, I had an incredible week at St Andrews celebrating 150 years of history and the game we love. I want to thank this place for all the memories it has given me, and to the fans today for having the walk up 18 be added to that list. pic.twitter.com/VHD93MfeSl
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) July 15, 2022
It comes at a time when money is at the root of all evil as golf ponders its future, a topic that Woods himself addressed earlier in the week while offering his opinion of LIV Golf.
No matter which side of that debate you come down on, the rousing ovation for Tiger came at a time that was a truly personal moment for the guy at the centre of it all and those putting their hands together.
It isn’t over for Tiger and we’ll see what the future brings for him on the golf course, but this truly human moment is not only a cherished moment from his career, but what the game needed, so we don’t lose perspective on what it’s all about.
It may not have turned out the way Woods would have liked, but it came with impeccable timing.