Hole-by-hole breakdown as 15-time major champion navigates the Old Course at St. Andrews
Tiger Woods has built his summer around The 150th Open at the Old Course at St. Andrews.
The 15-time major champion has said throughout his career that the Old Course is his favorite, a sentiment that he has echoed this week. Woods, 46, has won three previous Open Championships, including the 2000 and 2005 iterations at St. Andrews.
After competing at this year’s Masters (finishing 47th) and PGA Championship (making the cut but withdrawing after Round 3), Woods sat out last month’s U.S. Open with an eye ahead to The Open.
It’s now here. Woods commenced his opening round Thursday at 2:59 p.m. local time, alongside Max Homa and Matt Fitzpatrick.
Keep it here for hole-by-hole updates throughout Woods’ opening round at The 150th Open.
Hole 5 (par 5, 531 yards): Woods took driver on the reachable par 5, understanding the need to make up some shots quickly if he hopes to work his way back into realistic contention. His ball started left of center and he motioned for it to move right; the ball eluded trouble and settled in the short grass. (Fairways at St. Andrews are so expansive that two things are paramount: angles and avoiding the nasty pot bunkers. With so many different ways to play a hole, it can be tricky to deduce a tee shot’s outcome in relation to the player’s original intent.)
“I’d say it’s a little left of where he was trying to hit it,” remarked a commentator, “but he’s got it in play. Tough to get the second shot close there at 5.”
From 231 yards, Woods took a fairway metal and produced a high fade, appearing pleased with the strike and walking after it. The ball landed a few yards short of the green and was “unfortunate not to get any runout,” said a commentator, leaving an dicey eagle chip, uphill at first but with the green running away.
The three-time Open champion played a bump-and-run into the hill, but the ball picked up too much speed upon reaching the green, running out to approximately 25 feet past the hole. His birdie putt was left the whole way, but he tapped in for par, albeit a disappointing one.
4-over thru 5; 5/5 fairways hit; 2/5 greens in regulation
Hole 4 (par 4, 491 yards): Woods took driver and pulled it a touch left, the ball landing in the fescue but fortunately bouncing back into the short grass; he had caught a well-timed downslope on a mound in the fescue.
Woods found the putting surface with his approach but was left approximately 60 feet for birdie; considering the sprawling nature of St. Andrews’ green complexes, a green in regulation might not always provide the same context as it does on a typical golf course.
Woods’ birdie putt held a solid line but stopped 10 feet short of the hole; he slightly dropped his head as he traversed to mark his ball. His par putt missed on the left side, and he dropped another shot to par, continuing a fall toward the bottom of the leaderboard.
4-over thru 4; 4/4 fairways hit; 1/4 greens in regulation
Hole 3 (par 4, 393 yards): Woods again pulled driver and launched it to the left side of a wide fairway, the ball nearly finding the rough of the adjacent 16th hole but riding a slope back to a safe position in the short grass, nearly hole-high.
“As a general rule, you can hit it left on the majority of the holes at the Old Course,” remarked a commentator.
Playing across to the third green, Woods’ second shot caught a slope and rolled back into the fairway in front of the green, a vintage indication of St. Andrews’ complexities. He was short-sided on his pitch shot and played to approximately 15 feet left of the hole, leaving a lengthy putt to save par.
Woods played his par putt with too much pace, the ball missing on the right side and rolling 4 feet past. He buckled his knees in despair before resetting to make the bogey comebacker.
Woods has yet to miss a fairway in his opening round but has yet to hit a green in regulation.
3-over thru 3; 3/3 fairways hit; 0/3 greens in regulation
Hole 2 (par 4, 442 yards): Woods pulled driver on the mid-length par 4 and started it on a line toward the left edge of the fairway, the ball flirting with a penal bunker but missing on the left side, safely in the fairway. He pulled a mid-iron for his approach and produced a crisp strike with a smooth follow-through, but the ball landed on the back portion of the green, some 60 feet past the hole.
Woods’ lag was magnificent, the ball tracking the whole way before grazing the left edge and settling a foot past. He tapped in for a steadying par. No harm, no foul.
2-over thru 2; 2/2 fairways hit; 0/2 greens in regulation
Hole 1 (par 4, 355 yards): Woods took the tee to immense adoration and didn’t hesitate, pulling a long iron and splitting one of golf’s widest fairways with a crisp, low-flighted strike.
Unfortunately, though, the ball came to rest in a divot, making for a vexing short-iron to a front hole location guarded by the Swilcan burn. From 113 yards, Woods’ ball landed short of the burn and one-hopped into the water.
After dropping short of the burn, Woods judged his pitch shot quite well, the ball skirting just past the hole’s right edge and settling 5 feet past. He played the bogey putt left-to-right but hit it through the break, the ball missing on the left side. He tapped in for a disappointing double bogey to begin The 150th Open.
2-over thru 1; 1/1 fairways hit; 0/1 greens in regulation