Tiger Woods' bid for a third career major victory at St. Andrews during the 150th Open Championship came up well short on Friday as the 15-time major champion missed the weekend cut, turning in a 3-over 75 in Round 2 to finish an abbreviated stay in Scotland at 9 over through 36 holes of play. It was the second straight Open in which Tiger will not play the weekend and his second consecutive missed cut at St. Andrews, his favorite golf course in the world.
Woods opened his week with a stunning 6-over 78 that put his back against the wall from the first tee onward. Barring a miraculous comeback, which likely would have needed to be 66 or better -- a score he has not shot in a major since 2018 -- it was unlikely that Woods would play the weekend at the final major of the season. After a birdie at the par-4 3rd on Friday to capture a sliver of momentum that eluded him all week, Tiger made bogey on two of his next three holes and par on 11 of his final 12.
A run of nine consecutive pars beginning at No. 7 after an uneven start ended in spectacular fashion with a double bogey at the par-4 16th, which played as the hardest hole on the Old Course in Round 2. Following a mishit approach, he plunged into the green side pot bunker and was unable to get up and down to salvage bogey. It was his third double bogey on the week after posting two during a dreadful opening nine on Thursday.
"I always enjoy playing The Open at the Old Course. It's special," Woods said after his round. "The R&A set it up with some pretty tricky pins, some new ones, and made it pretty difficult -- obviously more difficult on me than the others. But any time you get a chance to play the Old Course at The Open, it's just special."
It would have been a story ripped straight from a fairytale for Woods to compete at the Open Championship at St. Andrews, the place where golf began, where he's won two of his three Claret Jugs and where so much history resides. But after withdrawing with injury from the PGA Championship in May and not participating in the U.S. Open in June, even Woods' course knowledge and experience was not enough for him to surmount the challenge that is the Old Course. It was just his fourth missed cut in the Open Championship across 22 career appearances.
While a missed cut doesn't qualify as a storybook ending, there was nonetheless drama at the finish for one of golf's all-time greats. As he crossed the Swilcan Bridge on No. 18 and tipped his cap, fans wondered whether Woods would pause and soak in the adulation -- the mark of a golfer who is not anticipating a return to St. Andrews.
Tiger did not break stride, instead walking clear across the bridge while approaching the 18th green wiping away tears with an appreciative grin. Woods later said he was unsure about his future at the Old Course, but it sure sounded like he would play St. Andrews again as long as his health cooperates.
"I've been lucky enough to been doing this since 1995. I don't know if I'll physically be able to play another British Open here at St. Andrews. I certainly feel like I'll be able to play more British Opens, but I don't know if I'll be around when it comes back here," Woods said. "The warmth and the ovation at 18, it got to me. I felt the guys stop there off the tee off 18. It was just incredible. Just the amount of understanding and respect from all the people that are involved in this event, that come out to support it, the players, the nods as I was getting as a player for going out. Rory [McIlroy] gave me a tip of the cap. J.T. [Justin Thomas] did the same. There's something about it. It's just different."
His reaction on 18 was emblematic of Woods entire week at St. Andrews as he took in the views and showed an immense appreciation both for the venue and his chance to play on the historic track. Doing so more than a year removed from a traumatic car crash that left him with significant injuries and put his playing career in peril was certainly special for Tiger given the esteem he has for St. Andrews.
After sinking a par at the 18th, Woods with his signature smile again waved his hat to the fans in appreciation and shook hands with his partners, perhaps -- with the next major championship at St. Andrews not set on any future schedule -- for the final time, at least as a viable contender.