Tiger throws caution to the winds to hone his links game

Tiger Woods flew into Fife yesterday and was so determined to get in some links practice on the Old Course he played through conditions that were "unplayable". The Royal and Ancient admitted afterwards that if this had been a tournament day, the 50mph gusts would have seen the Open Championship suspended.

He was not the only professional who braved the winds which Peter Dawson, the R&A chief executive, labelled "extraordinary". But Woods – making his first appearance in Britain since the extra-marital scandal broke last November – was one of the few who went out in the worst of it and completed all 18. This was despite having taken an overnight flight from Orlando where he had spent a few days with his children after jetting back from Ireland last Tuesday.

Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh were just two of the players who curtailed their rounds. "It does not get any windier than that," commented the Swede Henrik Stenson, who managed 16 holes. "It was brutal. The balls were even wobbling on the fairways."

Inevitably, they oscillated all the more obviously on the greens – and on the 11th they blew off their spot. In competition that would have heralded the hooter. "It would not have been playable today," confirmed Dawson. "Winds were gusting over 50mph out there. That is pretty extraordinary and thank goodness nothing like this is forecast for later in the week." As it was they nearly had to call off the first official day of practice because of "concerns about spectator safety". Two portaloos were blown over and advertising hoardings went the same way. Safety officials checked the grandstands. "We got through it," said a clearly relieved Dawson.

Dawson spoke to Woods mid-round. "He was on the seventh and I was looking at the 11th," he said. "He didn't seem too perturbed by the wind." No, it was the famous pot bunkers which troubled Woods. He visited three, which is more than in his victories of 2000 and 2005 put together. From the controversial new tee on the Road Hole 17th, Woods found the high rough on the left before taking another drive and only just missing the hotel.

Twenty minutes later he declined to talk to British reporters waiting for him outside the R&A clubhouse behind the 18th green. Instead, after putting out, the world No 1 turned on his heels and together with his caddie, Steve Williams, hurried back down the 18th fairway towards the Old Course Hotel, with a few policemen and bodyguards scampering to catch up. His silence was hardly a surprise, particularly as a member of his entourage was recently overheard saying: "Tiger is painfully aware he's going over to the tabloid centre of the world."

His interaction with the crowd was only slightly more animated. There were no cheers when he teed off on the first; indeed it took until the fourth hole until any member of the large galleries – paying £15 a pop – shouted out, "Tiger". Scottish golf fans are not known for being vociferous, but this was muted even by their tight-lipped standards. A gentleman on the 12th who screamed the name of Woods' first golf club "Los Alamitos" raised a reaction (a smirk) as did a little girl on the last who hollered his name (a wave).

Otherwise it was head down and hush, with his security detail warning fans around the tees "not to take any pictures while he is swinging". This certainly wasn't the new, smiling Tiger who engaged the crowd so uncharacteristically on his reintroduction to the sporting world on the Monday of the Masters three months ago.

Later Dawson talked about the chances of Woods receiving an ecstatic welcome here this week. "I don't know, he has now been playing events for quite some months," he said. "You would think that initial flush of reaction has past and Open Championship crowds have always been respectful of players. I would expect that to continue. But it is his first event in the UK since 'the difficulties', shall we say."

Everyone here is being asked for their Woods predictions and like the majority, Dawson foresees a positive week ahead for the world No 1.

"It is very difficult to predict but yes I would expect him to contend," he said. "He has proven he can play here. He is conscious that nobody has ever won The Open at St Andrews three times before. Let's hope this is the week he gets his game right."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London