Tiger Woods’ swing at St Andrews’ looks as good as ever ‘, says Justin Thomas | The Open

As Justin Thomas insisted it would be no shock to see Tiger Woods in contention at the Open Championship, three-time winner Nick Faldo wrote off the prospect of a 16th major success for the 46-year-old Woods at St Andrews. Faldo even floated the idea of ​​this Open bringing the curtain down on the American’s celebrated career.

Woods and Thomas played a five-hour practice round at the Old Course on Sunday, during which the former walked with a heavy limp. Woods, who skipped last month’s US Open, is still showing the effects of a serious car crash in February last year. He did, however, sign off in fine fashion; Woods drove the green at the par-four 18th before watching a 20ft eagle putt hang on the lip of the hole.

Afterwards, Thomas talked up his close friend’s Open opportunity. “His swing still looks as good as ever,” said the US PGA champion. “Would I be surprised if he challenged this week? No. I’ve learned better than to challenge anything about him. ”

Faldo is unconvinced. The Englishman believes the scale of exertion required to prevail in a major remains beyond Woods. “I don’t think there’s chances, no,” Faldo said when asked on Sky Sports whether Woods could win the Claret Jug. “Physically, he played at Adare Manor [in last week’s JP McManus pro-am] and was in a cart for a couple of days to rest the leg. The physical challenge is just walking a golf course and even though St Andrews looks flat, there’s so many twisting undulations walking that course, it’s going to be physically really hard work for him.

Justin Thomas tees off on the 14th during his practice round with Tiger Woods on the Old Course at St Andrews. Photograph: Peter Morrison / AP

“Even if Tiger was fit and strong, he doesn’t play much, and these kids [the world’s top players] are young and strong. Who knows what we’re going to get from Tiger, where he mentally is and what he’s thinking.

“If you’re going to retire then this is the place to retire, but is it too early? What does he know and what does he believe about his leg or his golf game? What possibilities are out there? I don’t know. Tiger always keeps things very close to his chest. ”

Thomas has sought St Andrews insight from Woods, who has won two Opens at this venue. “A little bit,” Thomas said. “I understand he is going to withhold some information but I’m trying to get as much out of him as I can because he has done pretty well around this place.” Thomas, the world No 5, is widely tipped to have a strong Open performance.

He declared himself a huge fan of St Andrews. “I love it here, it’s incredible,” said the 29-year-old. “It’s very special. It’s unique. It is the most true links Open I have ever played. It’s such a fun place. I’ve never had such a productive missed cut as at the Scottish Open on Friday because it’s been so nice to come out here and have two days of preparation. ”

Xander Schauffele survived a rollercoaster final round to secure his third win in succession in the £6.7m Scottish Open.nnSchauffele took a two-shot lead into the final round and birdied the first two holes to immediately double his advantage. 

What looked like a comfortable win proved anything but, though, the world No 11 dropping three shots in the space of four holes from the sixth to fall one behind fellow American Kurt Kitayama heading into the back nine.nnKitayama’s bogey on the 17th dropped him back into a share of the lead and a closing par completed a superb 66 to set what looked a testing clubhouse target of six under at the Renaissance Club. 

However, Schauffele regained his composure sufficiently to hole from 15 feet for birdie on the 14th and two-putt the par-five 16th for another to open up a two-shot cushion and a crucial par save on the 17th allowed the 28-year-old the luxury of a bogey on the last. 

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Schauffele said after a closing level-par 70 gave him a one-shot victory over Kitayama in the first event co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.nn“It was a big sense of relief when that par putt went in on 17 and I could hit a couple of long irons on 18 and lag it up there. 

“It was a very stressful day. Not going to put make-up on the pig here, it was a very average day. Probably my worst this week. As boring as it is, you really can’t get ahead of yourself in links golf. I was ahead, I was behind, I was ahead, I was behind. Just kept my head down and this is very rewarding. 

Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth was within a shot of the lead when he birdied the 13th but followed that with a double bogey on the next and eventually signed for a 72 to finish in a tie for 10th. PA Media

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Schauffele admits ‘stressful’ round on the way to Scottish Open title

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Xander Schauffele survived a rollercoaster final round to secure his third win in succession in the £ 6.7m Scottish Open. Schauffele took a two-shot lead into the final round and birdied the first two holes to immediately double his advantage.

What looked like a comfortable win proved anything but, though, the world No 11 dropping three shots in the space of four holes from the sixth to fall one behind fellow American Kurt Kitayama heading into the back nine. Kitayama’s bogey on the 17th dropped him back into a share of the lead and a closing par completed a superb 66 to set what looked a testing clubhouse target of six under at the Renaissance Club.

However, Schauffele regained his composure sufficiently to hole from 15 feet for birdie on the 14th and two-putt the par-five 16th for another to open up a two-shot cushion and a crucial par save on the 17th allowed the 28-year- old the luxury of a bogey on the last.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Schauffele said after a closing level-par 70 gave him a one-shot victory over Kitayama in the first event co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. “It was a big sense of relief when that par putt went in on 17 and I could hit a couple of long irons on 18 and lag it up there.

“It was a very stressful day. Not going to put make-up on the pig here, it was a very average day. Probably my worst this week. As boring as it is, you really can’t get ahead of yourself in links. golf. I was ahead, I was behind, I was ahead, I was behind. Just kept my head down and this is very rewarding.

Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth was within a shot of the lead when he birdied the 13th but followed that with a double bogey on the next and eventually signed for a 72 to finish in a tie for 10th. PA Media

Photograph: Craig Brough / X03817

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Thomas played down widespread fears the Old Course could be pulled apart by competitors, owing to the likelihood of gentle weather conditions and advancements in technology. “The fairways are already firm,” Thomas explained. “If the greens end up getting baked and become firm like the fairways, with where they could place these pins you aren’t going to be able to get very close to them. It’s going to take a lot of discipline, patience and shot-making. ”

On the famous Road Hole, the 17th, Thomas landed an errant drive in the grounds of the Old Course hotel. The ball only narrowly missed the former chief executive of the R&A, Peter Dawson, who at least saw the funny side of the incident.

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