Portrush, 19 July 2019: It is tough out there, especially if you are Tiger Woods. The baggage of his success and his prodigal return from a potentially career busting back surgery have all brought the attention back on a man who has lived under the lights since childhood. After a couple of rounds around the demanding course at the Royal Portrush Golf Club, Woods admitted that he needed a break before he can exert himself in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
He had warned us all much before play started in the 148th Open Championship.
“This year I made a conscious effort to cut back on my schedule to make sure that I don’t play too much,” said Woods in the pre-event presser. “I want to play here as long as I possibly can. And you have to understand, if I play a lot, I won’t be out here that long.
“So it’s understanding how much I can play, prepping how much I do at home and getting ready. And that’s the tricky part is trying to determine how much tournament play I need to get the feel for the shots and also understanding where my body is.”
A disappointing first round all but stuffed out his chances of another glorious run at the Open Championship. A shot at a fourth Claret Jug was long extinguished. But he turned on his game face and waded into battle on Friday, trying to preserve himself into the weekend.
Starting the day at 7-over, he was climbing uphill from the moment he struck his first tee shot. And even though he laboured his way to a 70 it was far too less in a field of prolific golfers eking out scores even under demanding conditions. Woods did just that week in week out, but that was a different time.
He has been gingerly at his best at Portrush and the strains on his body were there to see, even though Tiger was doing all he could to conduct himself without drawing too much attention. But the television feed earlier on Friday had him sitting on the grass to tie his laces and that was enough to raise concerns.
During his round today, Woods made four birdies, including two in a row at the bend to raise hopes of an unlikely recovery. But as his chances dimmed, so did his golf. He finished with a pair of bogeys on the 17th and 18th, labouring his way from tee to green.
“I’m going to take a couple of weeks off and get ready for the playoffs. We’ve got the playoffs coming up, and anything can happen,” said Tiger at the end of his round. “Last year I almost stole the whole FedExCup at the very end. If it wasn’t for Rosie’s little break there at the bunker, it could have been interesting.
“So get ready for those events. And after that then have a break.”
Woods won the Masters this year, but missed the cut at PGA Championship and earned a T21 finish at the US Open.