The British Open is not a ceremonial stop on the Tiger Woods retirement tour, contrary to suggestions, Woods said Tuesday.
"I know some of you guys think I‘m buried and done, but I‘m still right here in front of you," said the 39-year-old Woods from Scotland, where he put in a practice round at the Old Course at St. Andrews, where the 144th Open Championship begins Thursday. "I love playing. I love competing, and I love playing these events."
Woods last won a PGA Tour event in August 2013 and the 23-month winless streak and recovery from recent injuries, including back surgery, feeds public speculation that his career is closer to the end than the prime of his historic career.
The winless stretch also sparked discussion recently that he could walk away from golf, either for a significant break or retirement. He enters this major having not won a Grand Slam event since the 2008 U.S. Open and ranked 241st in the World Golf Rankings, but Woods chuckled at the very thought that he‘s near the end of his career.
"Retirement? I don‘t have any AARP card yet, so I‘m a ways from that," Woods said. "I feel like my body is finally healed up from the surgery from last year. They say it takes you about four to six months to get back, but I‘ve heard a lot of guys on tour who have the surgery and other athletes who say it takes over a year to get back.
"I think they were probably closer to being right — it being a full year to get back. It would have been one thing if I would have gone through the procedure and then had the same golf swing, but I‘ve changed the golf swing, too, on top of that. So that was kind of a double dipper there where I had to fight both at the same time."
Woods won the Open at this course in 2000 and again in 2005.
He said this week that golfers are going to be shocked at some off the changes and predicted low scores with less challenging greens.
"Obviously, the into-the-wind holes are going to be a little bit more difficult," said Woods, who broke down in simple terms that his yardage books shows nine easier holes and nine that are more difficult. "It‘s hard to carry some of the bunkers in some of the fairways sometimes, but you‘ve got to make your hay on the holes that are downwind, on the ones that are easy. You‘ve got to be able to make those birdies, and sometimes you‘ve just got to hang in there on the holes that are into the wind."