There has been much talk about Tiger Woods’ health going into the final major of 2019, but if the early returns at Royal Portrush are any indication, it’s his golf we can focus on at the 148th Open. Following his 15th major win at the Masters earlier in 2019, Woods played no tournament golf and got just nine holes of practice in at Bethpage Black preceding this year’s PGA Championship, the second major of 2019.
Well, it’s Monday of Open week, and he’s already practiced four times as many holes.
Woods got in 18 with Patrick Reed — you know, just two Masters champs hanging out by the Atlantic Ocean — on Sunday, and then he got 18 more in with Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson on Monday morning.
The architect in Woods seemed intrigued by Portrush.
“A lot of movement,” Woods told Golfweek. “A lot of decisions off the tees, with all the angles. Now, with the wind switching coming out of the south in the future, a lot of these shots we hit today are useless. So we’re trying to figure out what lines to take on and what lines not to take on. And these green complexes are so complicated, you have to miss in the right spot.”
Woods added that he wasn’t worried about being rusty or the layoff, and 36 holes in two days — a lot for him on the Sunday and Monday before a major — would indicate that that’s true.
Tiger has thrived at past Opens, and indeed this major seems to be the one he’s most suited to win as he ages into his mid-40s. He finished in the top 10 last year, and of his six top 10s at majors in the last eight years, half have come at The Open.
Woods will tee off with Matt Wallace and Patrick Reed at 10:10 a.m. ET on Thursday in Round 1.