Tiger, Phil … and a ‘wedge contest?’ This could be one wild Open week 

Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on Sunday on the 17th hole at St. Andrews.

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The Open Championship could be … a wedge contest?

As we enter Open Championship week, the talk has centered on the event’s 150th birthday. And Tiger. And Phil. And a fun idea of Tiger and Phil playing together, though we’ll be surprised if the R&A delivers on that suggestion. And, of course, the host, St. Andrews. It’s the Home of Golf, capitalized ‘H’ and ‘G.’ Though a comment by Jordan Spieth this week may have made you spit out your Guinness. Here’s the full back-and-forth, said Thursday at the Scottish Open

Reporter: “St. Andrews, a lot of people talk about the fact that it might be too easy.” 

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Spieth: “Sure.”

Reporter: “Do you feel that that’s the case, and if so or if not, why not?”

Spieth: “Yeah, I think it might be. You know, it’s hard for me to tell given 2015 we had so much wind that we couldn’t even play. But I think if it’s like it was this morning out here, it’s just a wedge contest, really.”

Really? It could be. Look at the winning scores from the most recent St. Andrews Opens: 15-under in 2015; 16-under in 2010; 14-under in 2005. Those are low. If the conditions are right, birdies can be had. Though, of course, that’s a really big if; it doesn’t take much for the Old Course to suddenly choose violence. And even if players are bombing it all over the joint, Spieth and nearly every pro will also tell you that it doesn’t really matter. Here’s more from the 2017 Open winner.

Reporter: “Do you look forward to St. Andrews differently than other venues for the Open?”

Spieth: “I think the Open at St. Andrews is arguably the best golf tournament we play.”

Reporter: “Why?”

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Spieth: “I just think the history of it, playing in the town, the idea that it could be the easiest or the hardest venue that we play depending on the day. Maybe it’s just I remember watching certain ones growing up, and so the holes, the kind of scenic holes starting and finishing really kind of hold onto, and then it was a really special tournament for me back in 2015 trying to go for a third in a row and just kind of the crowd, you know, the putt I made on 16 and kind of the finish, it was really fun contending in that major and having a chance to win.”

With that, let’s pour a cup of coffee. You may not want to miss what could be one of the wildest Open Championships in recent memory.  

Tiger and Rory and Trevino play golf … on Monday

We’ll have golf to watch as soon as Monday. Though one notable name may be sitting out. 

On Saturday, the Open announced eight of the players for its Celebration of Champions, where golfers will play 1, 2, 17 and 18 at St. Andrews. Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Lee Trevino and Georgia Hall will play together (and start at 12:05 p.m. ET), defending champ Collin Morikawa, defending Women’s Open champ Anna Nordqvist, Women’s Am champ Jess Baker and Mark McCormack Medal winner Keita Nakajima are in a group (and start at 10:05 a.m.), and you can watch on Golf Channel starting at 11 a.m. and at theopen.com.

But you likely won’t see Phil Mickelson. The Guardian reported that the 2013 Open winner did not want to participate, though that implies he at least had the option, whereas Greg Norman didn’t. On Saturday, the Open said he wouldn’t be allowed at either the Celebration of Champions or the Champions Dinner, and you probably know the reason why — though Norman’s and Mickelson’s controversial, Saudi-backed LIV Golf series will no doubt be a topic this week. 

Jack Nicklaus talks on Monday 

And that conversation could happen as soon as 7 a.m. ET, when the Open press conferences start. U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick kicks things off, followed by Jack Nicklaus and then Morikawa. 

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On Tuesday, starting at 4 a.m. ET, McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Woods, Jordan Spieth, Will Zalatoris, Justin Thomas and Scottie Scheffler will talk to reporters, and on Wednesday, starting at 4:30 a.m. ET, Robert MacIntyre, R&A officials and Cameron Smith will speak. 

Could Tiger and Phil play … together?

It’s unlikely. But could you just imagine? 

Golf Channel’s Shane Bacon did over Twitter on Friday, and it’s a helluva thought and would make for one helluva scene. Then again, it would very much take away from the celebration of the Open’s 150th anniversary.  

And the players may need their own individual stage. Especially Woods. 

Could this be … the last tournament Woods ever plays?

We’ll say no and argue that his comeback from injuries suffered last February is only beginning. But the 15-time major winner has spoken often recently about his love for the Old Course, where he’s won two of his three Opens. And if this were it … there would be no better sendoff than a Swilcan Bridge salute, much like the other greats of golf. 

Our suggestion would be to check the tee times — they’ll likely be released Tuesday sometime — check when Woods plays — he’ll likely have a Friday afternoon time — and make sure you’re around a TV when he hits 18 either on Friday or Sunday. 

It all starts Thursday 

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Oh, and they’re playing a tournament this week. And crowning a winner on Sunday. 

We’ll end things with Woods, who was asked this question at Monday’s J.P. McManus Pro-Am: “Can you just elaborate on what the Open means to you, and in particular, obviously, St. Andrews, with those two great wins there?

“I think it goes back to, for me, it’s more about history I think than anything else,” Woods said. “For me personally, knowing Arnold [Palmer], when Arnold’s the one who made the British Open what it is and he came over and qualified, finished second, qualified, finished first, qualified, finished first; if you ever make me qualify, I’m not coming back, so here we are.

“But just look at the names on that and you just go right through time, it’s like a time warp, and just how they put the names on and they start at the bottom and they added the lip and they added the bases and just the little things. And everyone who won that championship, they know how hard it was, and looking at some of the scores, I’m thinking, even with a gutta percha, how did they shoot those scores? It’s awfully impressive and to have won the Open Championship and for me specifically to have won at the Home of Golf is even more special.

“As Jack 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.”

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.