The Open: Woods accepts 'window' for major outings is closing

By Sports Desk July 06, 2022

Tiger Woods is unsure how long he will be able to play elite-level golf as he prepares for his 22nd Open appearance, having missed last month's U.S. Open in order to ensure his fitness for another outing at St Andrews.

Fifteen-time major champion Woods made a sensational return at the Masters in April, defying the odds to make the cut after suffering serious leg injuries in a car crash in February 2021.

The 46-year-old has won three Open titles, the most recent of which came in 2006 when he edged out fellow American Chris DiMarco for a two-shot victory, becoming the first man since Tom Watson in 1982 and 1983 to win the tournament in consecutive years.

And Woods says missing last month's U.S. Open, won by Matt Fitzpatrick at Brookline, was a decision he took in order to protect his participation at St Andrews, where he won Open titles in both 2000 and 2005.

"The plan was to play the U.S. Open, but physically I was not able to do that," he told BBC Sport.

"There's no way physically I could have done that. I had some issues with my leg, and it would have put [The Open] in jeopardy, and so there's no reason to do that."

Woods also said he experiences "very difficult days when moving off the couch is a hell of a task, and that's just the way it is."

As the golf legend looks forward to The Open, which begins on July 14, he accepts his window to play at the majors is closing due to his injury troubles.

Asked how long he could continue at the top level, Woods said: "I don't know. I really don't.

"If you asked me last year whether I would play golf again, all of my surgeons would have said no. But here I am playing two major championships this year.

"I will always be able to play golf. Whether it's this leg, or someone else's leg, or a false leg, or different body pieces that have been fused, I'll always be able to play.

"Now if you say play at a championship level, well, that window is definitely not as long as I would like it to be."

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    Justin Rose believes he has what it takes to live out his "dream" going into the final day of The Open.

    Rose is just one stroke off leader Billy Horschel after the third round, having carded a two-over-par 73 on Saturday, leaving him three under ahead of the final round.

    He is one of six in joint second, as he looks to become the first Englishman to win the Claret Jug since 1992 when it was lifted by Nick Faldo at Muirfield.

    Rose is aiming to win just his second major, following his U.S. Open success in 2013, and having had to go through qualifying to make it into the field, he is relishing his chance among the chasing pack.

    "I feel like I've got nothing to lose," he said. "I'm right there within touching distance.

    "[Sunday] is going to be massive. Those are days I've been working hard for, days I've still been believing I can have.

    "In a few years, it'll be someone else's dream. But it's still my dream right now, and I've got a great opportunity to go live it out."

    Heavy rain and high winds affected the late starters at Royal Troon on Saturday, though Rose held his nerve along the back nine with eight pars and one bogey to keep himself in the running.

    "That was super tough," Rose said. "I did such a good job on the back nine hanging in.

    "Obviously, eventually, a bogey came [at the 17th], which I think was going to happen at some point.

    "To sort of double down and bogey 18 as well would have definitely made dinner taste a little worse. I think really that par putt on 18 has really put me in a really great spot mentally."

  • The Open: Lowry accepts Troon triumph unlikely after dismal third round The Open: Lowry accepts Troon triumph unlikely after dismal third round

    Shane Lowry believes it will be difficult, but not impossible, for him to win The Open for a second time after sliding down the leaderboard at Royal Troon on Saturday.

    Lowry entered the third round with a two-stroke lead at seven under, but a six-over 77 saw him slip three shots behind new leader Billy Horschel.

    The Irishman, who won the 2019 edition of the tournament at Royal Portrush, failed to recover from a dismal double bogey on the eighth, finding the bunker from the tee then missing a subsequent bogey putt.

    Xander Schauffele and Justin Rose are among six players at three under, while Scottie Scheffler (two under) also sits between Lowry and the top of the leaderboard.

    Asked if he was still in with a chance of winning the tournament, Lowry told reporters: "I am, but it's hard now. I've just finished, and I really wanted to hole that one on the last. 

    "I knew Billy made bogey, and I knew Dan [Brown] was obviously going to make double. I would have been two back. Three back, you're still right in the tournament. 

    "This is going to take me a couple of hours to get over. I'm obviously pretty good now, but I have a job to do tomorrow and a similar chance to win this tournament."

    Lowry felt his putting let him down on a wet day in Scotland, outlining the impact the blustery conditions had on his game.

    "I felt like I played unbelievable golf today. Missed the first fairway and then didn't miss another fairway until 16," he said.

    "I hit some great iron shots, just didn't hole the putts early on when I had the chances, and then I missed a few par putts.

    "It's not much fun out there. You have to question why there wasn't a couple of tees put forward, to be honest. I think 15 and 17… 15 is 500 yards playing into that wind.

    "They keep trying to make holes longer, yet the best hole on this course is about 100 yards."

  • The Open: Horschel establishes one-shot lead as Lowry slips up The Open: Horschel establishes one-shot lead as Lowry slips up

    Billy Horschel will go into the final round of The Open with a one-shot lead after carding a two-under 69 on Saturday, with Shane Lowry tumbling down the leaderboard.

    Horschel leads a group of six players on three under, with Daniel Brown joined by Xander Schauffele, Justin Rose, Thriston Lawrence, Russell Henley and Sam Burns.

    The American, who missed the cut at last year's tournament and has never finished higher than T21 at The Open, did well in blustery conditions at Royal Troon.

    Horschel bogeyed the last after six straight pars, but a fine first nine featuring four birdies put him in a strong position as he chases his first major title.   

    Speaking to Sky Sports after completing his round, Horschel said: "This round in the Open Championship is by far the best one I've played in a major.

    "I knew I had to grind out a score. I knew it wasn't going to be pretty, it was going to be tough... but I was prepared for what the last nine holes were going to entail.

    "It would be the biggest win of my career. I have won a lot of great events, but this one would top all of them, and it's something I've always wanted in my golf career."

    Having started the day at five under, Rose hung on in challenging conditions to stay within reach, while Brown – who has never won a tournament on the PGA Tour – found himself at six under after making a brilliant birdie on the 16th.

    However, a double bogey on the last saw him lose the lead, a poor shot into the bunker leaving him with a 25-foot putt for bogey. 

    Despite an excellent showing, the 29-year-old was disappointed with the way he let his lead slip, telling Sky Sports: "That finish is a little bit frustrating.

    "But at the start of the week, if you told me I was going to be one back going into the final round of The Open then I would have snapped your hand off!

    "I've not really come here with any expectations... I've still got one round to go, I'm not going to get ahead of myself and start thinking about outcomes. 

    "I'm going to keep going about my business and hopefully come tomorrow evening, we will be there or thereabouts."

    Further back, two-time major champion Scottie Scheffler is at two under after finishing even for the day, one stroke ahead of second-round leader Lowry, who endured a dismal third round.

    Lowry carded a six-over 77, failing to recover from a double bogey at the Postage Stamp eighth as he found a deep bunker from the tee.

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