Tiger Woods is taking full practice for the first time this year as he prepares for his latest return to the 150th edition of the Open… with the 46-year-old looking to beat the odds to win a third St Andrews

  • Tiger Woods has not played since withdrawing from the PGA Championship in May
  • However, he has arrived in St Andrews and is set to compete in the Open
  • The 15-time major winner played a practice round on the Old Course on Sunday
  • After another stint on the sidelines, it’s hard to predict how Woods will behave
  • He has won twice at St Andrews before and will be hoping to do the same again

Tiger Woods suffered a cold during the third round of the Masters and again at the USPGA Championship in May. How good of Scotland to give him the warmest welcome in every way to help him on his way to a 150th St Andrews Open.

The best weather Tiger will experience all year at a major is set to hit the House of Golf this week, and it started with almost surreal heat on Sunday that left him sweating profusely. It’s something we’re used to seeing in Florida, but hardly Fyfe, and it will help a lot as he tries to go the distance and somehow contend in this special.

Mind you, the advantage looked non-existent on the opening holes, where Woods’ swings were distinctly stiff and tense. He hit it all over the store. You wouldn’t give much for him to make it to the end of Sunday, let alone the final next Sunday. But gradually the sun’s heat worked its magic, and the body that had endured such punishment relaxed.

Tiger Woods seemed to be enjoying his practice session at St Andrews

At one of the stages, those who watched the 15-time winner of major tournaments were treated to a signature fist

At one stage, those watching the 15-time major tournament winner were treated to a signature punch

The fact that he played a practice round that went the full distance for the first time this year speaks volumes for what this event and this course means to Tiger. There were even a few runs at the end that recalled the awe and majesty of his two victories here in 2000 and 2005.

After his playing partner Justin Thomas nearly beat former R&A CEO Peter Dawson with a wild drive on the 17th, which ended at the Jigger Inn, where he was relaxing – or trying to relax – Tiger showed him the correct line over the corner of the Old Hotel grounds Course to the middle of the fairway.

The 356-yard tee shot on the 18th was even better. Woods crushed a tee shot down a crumpled fairway through Sinn Valley to finish within 20 feet of the flag. By this stage, around 2,000 people had joined several thousand more cheering on Tiger’s presence on the back nine.

Woods is set to compete in his 150th Open starting Thursday

Woods is set to compete in his 150th Open starting Thursday

You might have noticed that Tiger was beaten because he left the eagle stroke by a fraction. Even for Tiger, even in practice, it still means something to get a two on the finishing hole with his own greatness.

As on every other hole, he then proceeded to practice chip shots and putts from places where his drives might have ended up if they weren’t so accurate. If he was really uncomfortable, he wouldn’t do it, would he?

Woods politely declined requests to speak afterward. He said he is scheduled to play after the four-hole Champions Challenge today and hold an official press conference on Monday.

His great friend Thomas had to answer a couple of standard questions. When asked if he would be surprised if Tiger challenged this week, Thomas surprisingly didn’t say he would be shocked. “I’ve learned better than to dispute anything about him,” was his predictable response.

Fans were on hand to watch the American practice the entire set of shots

Fans were on hand to watch the American practice the entire set of shots

Woods arrived Saturday afternoon. When he decided late last year that he wanted to push through the pain and rehab to try to play competitive golf again, he had this week in mind.

He clearly intends to make the best of it, perhaps in the event that there are no more. Armed with a club, a pair of short irons and Thomas for company, the 46-year-old was in town for just a couple of hours before joining the other evening strollers still allowed to walk the links before the turnstiles opened yesterday.

Both Americans were enjoying one of those blissful sunny summer evenings in Scotland so much that it was nearly 11 o’clock before they played a couple more chip shots on the 17th before heading back to the hotel.

Will the tiger fight? Obviously, it’s a long way off. But the connections are fast and strong, and the sunlight doesn’t fade, so those two things he needs to have any chance are in place. It must be epic to watch him try.

Woods previously won twice at St. Andrews, winning the Maroon Jug there in 2000 and 2005.

Woods previously won twice at St. Andrews, winning the Maroon Jug there in 2000 and 2005.

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