In 25 years of broadcasting The Open Championship for ESPN/ABC and NBC, perhaps Mike Tirico’s most breathtaking moment came at the 150th edition last month at St. Andrews.
It was Tiger Woods’ walk up 18 at the end of his second round of what might have been his final Open appearance at The Home of Golf.
“That was one that you just wanted to take a step back — I’m glad I wasn’t on the air — and take it in,” Tirico told GOLF’s Subpar co-hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz. “Because you really do think, you know I may not see this again.”
Tirico was just getting ready to start his coverage shift when he was coming from a booth near the 17th hole when he saw Woods finishing up on 17 and teeing off on 18. He added that he didn’t think Woods would tee it up in an Open at St. Andrews again.
“I wasn’t ready to say he absolutely will not. But I think all of us, when he walked over the bridge and didn’t stop and pause and look back, were like ‘Awh man!'” Tirico said. “But then to see him tear up as he got closer to 18, that was like, that was a lot of things.
“His appreciation for how much the people there appreciated him and all of he’s done.”
Woods notably did not stop for a final wave on the famed Swilcan Bridge, but Tirico said that his emotion at first was possibly overridden by his emotion for his poor play. Woods shot 78-75 to miss the cut.
“Especially Tiger, who knowing him, would have been pissed with what he was shooting,” Tirico said. “That overriding emotion keeps out the sadness, the tears, that kind of thing.”
With the R&A rumored to be not playing The Open at St. Andrews again until 2030, it seems likely this was Woods’ last visit to the Old Course.
But Tirico gave it a chance it wasn’t.
“He’ll still try, he’ll always still try,” he said.
To hear more of Mike Tirico’s sportscasting stories and observations on Tiger Woods, check out the full Subpar interview below.