Tiger Woods is among the few who can appreciate how the Old Course played in the old days.
His first time playing St. Andrews for the British Open as a pro was in 2000, and on his final day of practice, Woods ripped a driver in relatively benign conditions to the front of green on the 352-yard ninth hole.
Then, swing coach Butch Harmon pulled out a replica of the gutta-percha golf ball from more than a century ago. Woods ripped another driver and then a 5-iron just over the back.
Such is the mystique of St. Andrews, particularly the Old Course.
This is the 150th edition of the Open, and it’s been 149 years since it was first held at the home of golf. Yes, the course has changed over the years. And yes, the evolution of the game has led to scores getting lower with each generation, just as times have come down on the track and in the pool.
But it’s still the Old Course.
“Even with advancements in technology, this golf course still stands the test of time,” Woods said. “It’s still very difficult, and it’s obviously weather dependent. You get winds like we did today, it’s a hell of a test.”
This was on Tuesday, the strongest wind of the week. Woods hit 6-iron for his second shot on the 386-yard 10th hole. He was 120 yards out into the wind. With a different wind, perhaps even no wind, he can still get driver around the green.