Tiger Moments at St. Andrews About more than Claret jugs | Sports News

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By DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer

Tiger Woods’ greatest achievement in St. Andrews has never been captured on television.

His victory at the 2005 British Open was nothing short of extraordinary. It was the second jug of claret Woods won on the Old Course, cementing an affection for St. Andrews so deep he was never going to miss it this year as long as he could walk.

Woods never trailed on the last 63 holes. He led by no less than six strokes in the final round and won by five. Still, he knew right away that Sunday was going to be special depending on the training field.

Beginning his full shot warm-up with a corner, his first shot hit the 100-yard wooden backboard.

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And then he started again. And even. And even.

“Four times in a row,” Woods said in an interview later that year with The Associated Press. “I hit a few little corners to loosen up, then hit the backboard. I peppered it four times in a row through the air on the right zero – not the middle zero, the right zero.

Behind him stood Hank Haney, his swing coach at the time, watching quietly before leaning in to give caddy Steve Williams some advice.

“He hit that sign four times in a row – and five out of eight,” Williams said. “Hank says to me, ‘The first time he comes within 100 yards, you might want to tell him to aim away from the flag. “”

Williams laughed. Except it wasn’t a joke.

“The first time I’ve been within 100 yards is on No. 6,” Woods said. “I had 98 yards on the hole. What happens? I jump it off the flag and it spins off the shelf.

It’s doubtful he’ll be able to summon moments like that again given his age and the nature of his injuries. If four knee surgeries and five back surgeries weren’t enough, Woods broke his right leg and ankle bones in a February 2021 car accident in Los Angeles. He said doctors briefly considered amputation.

Fourteen months later, he took the toughest march in championship golf at the Masters and competed well enough to qualify. He didn’t know in April how much he could play the rest of the year – so much remains unknown – except that it would include St. Andrews.

“It’s my favorite golf course in the world,” said Woods, strong words from a Californian who delivered the most dominant performance in a major at Pebble Beach and has five Augusta National Masters green jackets.

The Old Course is special to so many before it, from Bobby Jones to Jack Nicklaus, and it’s worth having experienced that moment outside the Royal & Ancient clubhouse holding a silver burgundy jug and being introduced as the “Champion Golfer of the Year.”

But the memories he created extend to a moment that took him back a century, during a practice round in 2000 when he won to complete the Grand Slam of his career.

The aim of this week was to add to the history of the house of golf. On the eve of the Open, Woods had the chance to relive history.

He was on the 352-yard ninth hole during a practice round on Wednesday when his swing coach, Butch Harmon, gave him a replica of the gutta-percha golf ball used more than a century earlier. It was a molded brown rubber ball with score lines all over it.

Gutta-percha was the first game-changer in golf – yes, Royal & Ancient game technology started long before titanium and the Pro V1 – replacing a ball made of feathers packed in a sleeve.

After hitting the driver on the front edge of the green, he hit the gutta-percha replica and had another 120 yards to go. Woods hit a full 5 iron just over the back. He did par.

And then he went on to make his own mark of history that year, winning by eight strokes to become the fifth player to win a career Grand Slam without hitting a single bunker all week on the Old Course. .

It’s the story that draws him so much, and the names on the base of this burgundy silver jug, a trophy that was first awarded 150 years ago.

Woods is one of five players to have won the Open twice at St. Andrews. No one has done it three times and the odds are not in their favor. Even so, there’s something magical about the gray old town, and there’s a part of Woods that thinks this might be his best bet, even on one good wheel.

Woods realizes that his window is closing. It will probably be at least five years before the Open returns to St. Andrews. He said earlier this week in Ireland that he can still play golf as long as he can swing a club. Competing with the best in the world? It’s different.

“I know he’s been circling this on his calendar for a while and he’s talked about it and I think it’s his favorite golf course in the world and he loves it, and obviously he’s had great success there. “said Justin Thomas, who is spending time with Woods at his home in Florida.

“I know everyone will be looking forward and ready to see him play at St. Andrews because it’s going to be quite a historic week.”

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