2022 British Open: Tiger Woods struggles in opening round
The voices echoed across the dwindling reaches of St. Andrews, the accents different but the sentiments the same as in America: "COME ON TOY-GAH!"
As the sun set on a long, slow day in Scotland, Tiger Woods plodded his way through the last few holes of the Old Course, frustration evident on his face, in his shoulders, in his slow walk. He ended the day at 6-over, a rugged 78 that left him buried near the bottom of the leaderboard.
This wasn't how it was supposed to go for Woods, not how he expected his return to St. Andrews to unfold. He'd spent his rehab from a devastating 2021 single-car wreck planning for this week. Even more so than the Masters, more so than any other major, he wanted to be back at St. Andrews, at the course he calls his favorite. He'd won twice at St. Andrews, and he knew the course would be far less stressful on his surgically repaired body than any other on the major rotation.
And yet with all that preparation, all that expectation, all that anticipation, all it took was a handful of sand to derail Woods' entire day.
Woods' first tee shot of the day found a sand-filled divot. When he tried to carve his way out of it, the ball trickled into the burn running right across the front of the first green. And just like that, Woods began the day with a double bogey.
It literally never got any better than that.
Woods immediately bogeyed the third and fourth holes, and doubled the seventh, and just like that he was as close to the bottom of the leaderboard as he once had been to the top.
He couldn't make up any ground, because any time he made some magic happen — like back-to-back birdies at the turn — he immediately gave it right back again. He ended the day with three birdies, five bogeys and two double-bogeys, as ugly a round as he's ever carded.
The frustration for Woods surely has to be that he possesses some elements of an elite-level game — he's as long off the tee as almost anyone in the field, for instance — and his knowledge of the game is second to none. But that knowledge now functions as a curse; he knows exactly what he needs to do, he's just not capable of doing it.
Woods won't have much time to dwell on Thursday, and that's probably for the best. He tees off at 9:58 a.m. local time on Friday, less than 13 hours after finishing out Thursday's round. He'll need to work hard to make the cut, and if he can't, he'll have to take comfort in all the memories of better days at St. Andrews.
Contact Jay Busbee at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.