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Tiger Woods did not get the start he was looking for at the Old Course.
Ever since Tiger Woods limped to the Southern Hills parking lot after withdrawing from the PGA Championship two months ago, the opening round of the 150th Open Championship was circled on the calendar.
Despite a banged-up body and limited reps, this was the tournament he had a real shot to win. The conditions are firm, the walk is easy, and no one has played this course better. If Woods was going to win a major in 2022, the Old Course would almost certainly be the venue.
That hype was palpable on the 1st tee Thursday afternoon in St. Andrews. Thousands of fans jammed into the grandstands lining the fairway, and millions others tuned in on the broadcast. At last, the moment everyone had been waiting for was here.
“This is game No. 45,” the 1st tee announcer said. “On the tee from the USA … Tiger Woods.”
Woods tipped his cap as the crowd exploded in applause. He took one final practice swing with his long iron, peered down the fairway, and stepped up to his ball. And, like he’s done so many times before at the Old Course, he sent a low rocket screaming down the baked-out fairway.
His Bridgestone ball took several bounces on the concrete-like playing surface and then skittered closer and closer to the green. It looked like the perfect start.
However, just before the broadcast cut back to the tee for Matt Fitzpatrick’s opening shot, cameras showed Woods’ ball slowing to a wobbling halt — directly into a sand-filled divot. The announcers made note of a slight smirk on Woods’ face as he approached and saw where his ball had ended up.
That smirk would quickly turn into a scowl.
With a wedge in his hands, Woods blasted his ball out of the divot on his approach shot, sending sand flying into his eyes. When his eyesight recovered from the sandy mess, he watched as his ball took one hop into the burn protecting the green.
“That’s unfortunate, isn’t it?” the announcer remarked. “Tough break.”
It wouldn’t be the last tough break Woods encountered on the opening par 4. After dropping short of the hazard and pitching his fourth onto the green, he left himself with just over three feet for bogey. And although it looked like he would escape the hole with minimal damage, the golf gods were not so kind.
The bogey try never touched the hole, starting left and staying left. When Woods tapped in the ensuing putt, the scoreboard reflected a sobering reality.
Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF.com, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf.
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