DEREK LAWRENSON: Tiger Woods revels in his love of the Irish as he warms up for The Open by collaborating in pro-am in Limerick, weeks after pulling out of US PGA Championship in severe pain
- Tiger Woods featured in a pro-am event at Adare Manor in Limerick, Ireland
- Woods last appeared on the US PGA Championship where he retired attributable to pain
- The American will spend the week in Limerick before heading to St. Andrews
The primary time Tiger Woods played in Ireland, on a buddies trip before the 1998 Open, he was anxious that the group walking with him down the fairways at Waterville would get too close.
The late Payne Stewart, sensing his nerves, put an arm around his shoulder. ‘Ah Tiger, you never need to worry concerning the crowds here,’ Stewart reassured him. ‘They’ll show you all of the respect and affection you wish.’
Twenty-five years on, Tiger was back in Ireland drawing a unprecedented gathering to the primary tee on the JP McManus pro-am on Monday. Veteran Irish pro Des Smyth, taking over announcing duties, echoed Stewart’s words from way back in capturing the mood of the 40,000 spectators perfectly. ‘On the primary tee, and I hope he won’t mind me taking the freedom, the ONE AND ONLY Tiger Woods!’ he said.
Tiger Woods was a part of one in every of golf’s most illustrious pro-am events ever assembled
Woods gave the impression to be having fun with himself and shared a joke with Rory McIlroy on Monday
This was the primary time Tiger had been seen since withdrawing from May’s US PGA Championship in an important deal of pain after the third round. He was relaxed enough within the build-up at Adare Manor, as Leona Maguire took advantage of a tee-time just after his to have a chat.
‘I got an image with him too!’ said the 27-year-old, demonstrating that even Ireland’s best female golfer will be awe-struck.
How did Tiger look, with the Open now just nine days away? The center sank when he told a Sky Sports interviewer on the primary tee that he didn’t know the way he would find a way to barter driving a cart through the crowds.
Woods first played in Ireland 25 years ago
More encouraging was him forsaking the buggy after a high quality approach from the center of the primary fairway to walk to the green. He ambled together with that limping shuffle we grew accustomed to on the Masters in April but a minimum of there have been no grimaces over the opening holes, as there have been in Tulsa in May.
This was just Tiger’s eighth round in public within the 16 months, since his automotive accident. As with the opposite seven, it emphasised that the toughest thing for the 46-year-old nowadays is the physical challenge. His technique looks as sound as ever.
Adare Manor will host the 2027 Ryder Cup and a Ryder Cup-style crowd followed the sport’s ultimate Pied Piper, despite the bogeys racking up. Nobody was bothered about his rating.
It was perhaps essentially the most illustrious pro-am field ever assembled, with 10 of the world’s top 12, including No 1 Scottie Scheffler and No 2 Rory McIlroy. All have bought into JP’s vision for this two-day event being staged for the primary time in 12 years, and expected to lift £45million for local charities.
Most will then move on to the Scottish Open on Thursday, which has the strongest field for any event within the history of the DP World Tour.
Tiger, naturally, is not going to be amongst them. He’ll remain at Adare Manor for the remainder of the week before moving on to St Andrews and his favourite course on the earth. If nothing else, the heartfelt reception in Limerick will definitely stand him in good stead for the raw emotion that lies ahead on the Home of Golf.
The legend pulled out of the USA PGA Championship Third Round with an important deal of pain
Whisper it across the Home of Golf but here is just a little Open secret regarding Britain’s newest major champion Matt Fitzpatrick: he shouldn’t be a fan of the Old Course at St Andrews.
Or a minimum of he wasn’t back in March, when he considered it a course that could possibly be bullied by the massive bombers. ‘Bryson DeChambeau will probably win the Claret Jug driving every par 4,’ was his somewhat pithy verdict to Sportsmail.
Now that he is not any mean hitter himself and bolstered by the arrogance of stepping on to the primary tee next week because the US Open champion following his victory at Brookline, it’s going to be interesting to see if the 27-year-old from Sheffield undergoes a Bobby Jones-style change of heart.
In any case, together with his low ball flight and demon putting stroke, there isn’t any obvious reason why it shouldn’t suit him.
Matt Fitzpatrick won the US Open and may fancy his probabilities at St Andrews