The last time Tiger Woods successfully competed in an Open Championship, he did so at dawn when he came up with the dew-sweeps to set out on a path to glory, only the most dedicated fans there to behold his majesty
changed since that summer at Hoylake and the Tiger that planted the fairways of Royal Portrush is not the same as in 2006.
Yes, he finally added a 15th major to the Masters of April, but with every passing month and every skipped tournament that starts winning, it looks like a final hurray, a roar deep in the belly of a beast that might not have such moments to give.
Wearing the green jacket in Augusta, dewy-eyed fans around the world dared to dream that he could indeed match Jack Nicklaus & # 39; s record of 18 major titles.
Q & A: The Open at Royal Portrush
Open Diary day one: Game of cones
Now, whisper it, the fear is that this is a farewell trip – a chance to see Sinatra unpack and show the biggest hits after the voice has disappeared.
And Tiger wraps them in
The galleries swell from the first to the last, dragged by the biggest star in the wave body and the gravity of greatness.
Road To reach the runway directly from the airport on Sunday, it was perhaps no surprise to see the biggest name in the golf fight as he turned around with Ryder Cup- partner Patrick Reed.
Multiple operations have taken their toll and while its spine can be successfully melted, it will clearly not withstand the rigors of normal planning.
Monday the practice round was played with squad partners Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.
While Tiger & # 39; s compatriots drew many admiring glances, it was the man in the lemon crewneck who saw everyone crack their necks to see.
What they saw during most of the day was far from beautiful, and when Woods did not come out of a deep greenside bunker on December 14, there was a collective sigh.
"Nice shot Tiger," broke out the second time he asked if something was being asked, but many in the galleries had seen enough to write off his chances.
"I do a great compliment to him for missing the cut based on what I saw today," said a marshal.
An older woman, a little more sympathetic, thought: "He looks tired, doesn't he?"
A champagne moment?
And he was tired of feeling his age, feeling his back and tired of not giving the galleries the show they were expecting to see.
If a week is a long time in politics, it can be just as transforming in golf.
There have been many times that a trophy winner soaked in champagne drowned in his own shortcomings for only seven days
But if there must be a champagne moment for Tiger Woods in Portrush, something must change .
The man himself once said, "The only reason I enter an event is to win."
This is a star that does not make farewell journeys.
He is not just here to be seen, he wants to be heard again roaring … just like the Tiger of old.