Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s Open Championship prep? An all-time buddies’ trip

From the J.P. McManus Pro-Am through to Ballybunion, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are having quite the Open Championship preparation.

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It is the most precious of all employment benefits — the “workcation” — and in Ireland in the lead-up to the Open Championship, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are partaking in style.

In early July, Woods and McIlroy are enjoying a well-deserved summer holiday. Like many millions of other tourists, they’re traveling throughout the countryside, seeing the sights, and enjoying a Guinness (or three) along the way. And the best part? Woods and McIlroy are no tourists. Rather, the pair’s Irish jaunt is being called “work” (however dubious that claim may be).

This is the benefit of being a professional golfer in Europe in weeks prior to the Open Championship, and it is particularly the benefit of being an extraordinarily famous professional golfer under those same circumstances.

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First, Tiger and Rory were in Adare, Ireland competing in golf’s biggest pro-am: the J.P. McManus. With crowds flocking and excitement mounting, the two golfers hit-and-giggled their way through the perfectly manicured greens and fairways of the 2027 Ryder Cup host. Tiger played in a cart, saving his legs for The Open, while McIlroy played (briefly) with Woods’ driver. But then the 36 holes at Adare Manor were over, and it was time for the real fun to begin.

On Thursday, Woods and McIlroy surfaced on social media again, this time at a different location, and under a significantly lower profile. The two men were at Ballybunion (ranked 9th in GOLF’s Top 100 Courses in the UK and Ireland), reliving McIlroy’s glory days as an ascendant junior golfer in the Irish countryside.

Quickly, videos surfaced from all corners of the Internet of Rory and Tiger trading tee shots on the brilliant seaside links.

“Back in the day,” Rory can be heard telling Tiger in one video, seconds before piping a center-cut drive. “I used to aim down the middle of the fairway, it would start down the right edge and then draw back to the middle of the fairway.”

Further inspection reveals their foursome was rounded out by two members of their respective teams: McIlroy’s agent Sean O’Flaherty and Woods’ manager Rob McNamara.

Given the overlap in their schedules, it stands to reason that all four men will be traveling together to next week’s Open at the Old Course at St. Andrews. It also stands to reason that for the two men in the Open Championship field, their little boondoggle through some of the linksland’s best is a welcome warmup for the bigger challenge soon to follow.

It’s likely that both men will arrive at the home of golf for some time this weekend, meaning there’s ample time for one (or two) more bucket list rounds before the private jet leaves for St. Andrews.

Tough week at the office!

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James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.