St Andrews diary: Woods bids a farewell to his ‘favourite course’

Next Open at home of golf unlikely to include the presence of one of golf’s greatest sons

Rory McIlroy gave him a tip of his cap, Justin Thomas a nod … and those visible shows of respect from the new generation, starting out on the first, were very much appreciated by Tiger Woods, who made his way up the 18th having most likely played his last ever Open at St Andrews; although he does plan on playing in future championships in the coming years.

With the next Open on the Old Course set to be played in 2030 (as yet unconfirmed), Woods isn’t convinced his body will be able to stay competitive for another eight years to allow a return to his “favourite course”.

“I’ll be able to play future British Opens, yes, but eight years’ time, I doubt if I’ll be competitive at this level. It’s a struggle just playing the three events I played this year. That, in itself, was something I’m very proud of. I was able to play these three events, considering what has transpired,” said Woods, who suffered horrendous injuries in a car crash in February 2021.

“Hopefully we do more hard work and give myself some more chances next year to play a few more events,” added Woods, who admitted to being tearful on approaching the 18th green to a huge ovation, with the grandstands full and people literally standing on balconies and rooftops of those buildings lining the fairway.

Closing date looms for fans’ public ticket ballot to Hoylake Open

Better act quickly!

Future venues for The Open have been announced for the next three years – with Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) playing host next year, Royal Troon in 2024 and Royal Portrush in 2025 – and the closing date for the public ticket ballot to the 2023 championship closes at 3pm next Wednesday, July 20th.

The ticket ballot application window is only one to members of The One Club, a free-to-join membership programme from which the result of the ticket allocations will be confirmed in August and September to assist in fans planning their trips.

As part of the R&A’s growing the game initiative, a significant proportion of tickets to juniors (under 16s) and youths (16-24s) will be allocated.

Calcavecchia bids adieu to The Open

Mark Calcavecchia became the latest American golfer to bid adieu to The Open by standing for a farewell pose on the Swilcan Bridge after hitting his last tee shot off the 18th.

Although 62 years of age – two older than the permitted eligibility requirements – Calcavecchia was given a special invitation by the R&A after the 2020 championship was postponed a year and, then, he was unable to play at Royal St Georges last year due to injury.

“When I got the email from Martin Slumbers, when he said the committee has unanimously agreed to have you play your last Open here at St Andrews, that was a great night. I’ve really been looking forward to it for quite a while.

“Unfortunately, my knees are really bad, both of them. I’m thinking knee surgery is looming. Anyway, I go around. My goal was to make the cut but I just got off to a crappy start,” said Calcavecchia, who was unsure whether he would stay on for next week’s British Seniors Open or travel home to the USA for further medical assessment on his dodgy knees.

Number of the Day: 1

Only one player – Jack Nicklaus – has managed to win the Players and the Claret Jug in the same year: that was in 1978, when the Open was also held at St Andrews. Cameron Smith will be aiming to become the second.

Quote of the Day

“It hurts missing the cut. It hurts missing the cut in the Open. It hurts missing the cut in the Open at St Andrews. It hurts missing when you were five-under-par. Do you want any more hurts?” – Pádraig Harrington, who’d moved to five-under (and into fifth) after a birdie-birdie start only to fall away to a 78 for 147 to miss the cut.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times