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ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – This might be the final time that Tiger Woods has a chance to play at a competitive level at St. Andrews, but he laughed off any speculation that he might retire following the 150th Open.
“Who, me? Retire?! No,” he said in an interview with Sky Sports, seeming genuinely surprised by the line of questioning. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I’m not retiring.
“Am I not playing a full schedule. Yes. I’ve told you guys that many times. That’s just my reality. I don’t like it, but I just have to accept it.”
Woods is making his third official start of the year after recovering from a horrific car accident in February 2021 that he said nearly cost him his right leg. Though each tournament round requires hours of treatment and rehabilitation in order to get him to the first tee, Woods said last week that the grind has been worth it.
“It’s been hard,” he said at the JP McManus Pro-Am in Ireland. “I’ve had some very difficult days and some days when moving off the couch is a hell of a task, and that’s just the way it is.”
Woods has appeared in significant discomfort at both the Masters and PGA Championship, where he made the cut. He withdrew before the final round at Southern Hills, the first time in his career that he was unable to finish a major.
While recovering from the physical setback, Woods was unable to play in last month’s U.S. Open, but he had long circled his return to St. Andrews, which he has described as his favorite course in the world. He won here in 2000 and ’05, and missed the cut when The Open was last held here in 2015.
With the Old Course a part of the Open rota, it’s unclear when the ancient links will next host golf’s final major. The R&A has only announced host venues through 2025.
Whether walking 18 holes at dusk with Justin Thomas on Saturday or posing for pictures with Jack Nicklaus on the Swilcan Bridge on Monday, Woods has seemed to savor each moment in what, at age 46, could be his final chance to win The Open as a non-ceremonial golfer.
“Who knows?” he said. “I don’t know, if it is that long [between Opens here], whether I’ll be able to physically compete at this level by then. It’s also one of the reasons why I wanted to play in this championship – I don’t know what my career is going to be like.
“I’m never going to play a full schedule ever again. My body just won’t allow me to do that. I don’t know how many Open Championships I have left here at St. Andrews, but I wanted this one. It started here for me in 1995, and if it ends here in 2022, it does. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. If I get the chance to play one more, it would be great, but there’s no guarantee.”