TIGER WOODS has shrugged off fears about his fitness for next week’s Open, despite using a buggy for both rounds of the JP McManus Pro-Am.
Woods, 46, said that was a “sensible precaution” because he didn't want to risk overdoing things just over a week before he tees off at St Andrews.
And he revealed he will continue his preparations for the 150th Open by playing some of Ireland's finest links courses – but refused to say which ones to keep nosy fans at bay!
Woods had not been seen in action since quitting the USPGA at Southern Hills before the start of the final round in May.
But after completing 36 holes at Adare Manor near Limerick he said he was in much better physical condition now – despite continuing to limp and grit his teeth through the pain.
Woods insisted: “I have gotten a lot stronger since Southern Hills a couple of months ago, but using the buggy here was always a sensible option. As far as the duration on my feet goes, let's just try to keep that to a minimum until we have to.
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“I still train as hard as I can each and every day, and I'm doing a lot more reps than I have for a while. But I prefer riding in a cart when it’s available.
“I don’t want to push it too hard with such a big tournament coming up. I'd rather save my legs for next week!”
Woods sidestepped last month’s US open because he was not prepared to risk damaging his chances of playing in an Open that is “steeped in history”.
He explained: “The plan was to play the US Open but there's no way physically I could have done that. I had some issues with my leg and it would have put the Open in jeopardy and there's no reason to do that.
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“This is a pretty historic Open that we are going to be playing. I'm lucky enough to be part of the past champions that have won there, and want to play there again.
“As Jack Nicklaus says, your career is not complete unless you've won an Open Championship at the Home of Golf, and I feel like he's correct in that regard.
“And I don't know when they are ever going to go back to St Andrews while I'm still able to play at a high level – and I want to be able to give it at least one more run at a high level.
“I don't know how many more years that window of opportunity will be open for me. I really don't. If you asked me last year whether I would even play golf again, all of my surgeons would have said no.
“But here I am, having played two Major championships this year, with another one around the corner.
“I will always be able to play golf – whether it's this leg or someone else's leg, or a false leg, or different body pieces that have been replaced or fused, I'll always be able to play.
“Now if you say play at a championship level, well, that window is definitely not as long as I would like it to be.”
Woods admits he was lucky to be alive after suffering horrific injuries in a car crash last February – and just as lucky not to have his right leg amputated after it was crushed and shattered.
He added: “What I’ve had to go through to get to this stage has definitely been worth it. It's been hard. 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.
“I'm very thankful for all the support I've gotten, my treatment staff, all of my surgeons who are repairing this leg and keeping it.
“So I still have my own two legs – I tell you, I'm not going to take it for granted anymore.
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“Some people do. But people who have come close or lost a limb understand what I'm saying. You have difficult days and also you have great days, and things are not what they used to be, that's for sure.
“But they are great days which I can spend with my kids, and do things that they can do – at a slightly slower pace, but I can still do it with them. And as I said, I CAN still play golf.”
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