Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy had Covid days before Open Championship, McIlroy says

Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy on Monday, July 11 at St. Andrews.

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Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy had Covid-19 just a week ahead of the start of this year’s Open Championship, McIlroy has revealed. 

According to an interview published Sunday in the Sunday Independent, McIlroy began to show Covid symptoms on the morning of Thursday, July 7, and Woods that night. Both golfers then played the Open at St. Andrews a week later, with Woods being photographed on property on Saturday, July 9, and McIlroy two days later. 

McIlroy said in the interview that he had quarantined himself at Adare Manor in Ireland, where, days earlier, he and Woods had played the JP McManus Pro-Am, and that he started to feel better on Sunday, July 10, though the story did not say whether McIlroy was ever tested for Covid. Woods’ recovery was also not reported, and messages by GOLF.com to Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, and the Open Championship were not immediately returned.  

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At St. Andrews, Woods missed the cut, then denied speculation that he had played his last Open. Two days later, McIlroy began the final round of the tournament with a share of the lead, only to finish third, two shots behind winner Cam Smith. 

In the Sunday Independent interview, McIlroy said he and Woods played golf the day he started to feel Covid symptoms, and that he then called Woods later to tell him he wasn’t feeling well. At that point, McIlroy said, Woods said he was OK, then hours later, Woods texted McIlroy that he had taken a turn. 

“Chills, fever, and I’m like, ‘F*****g hell, I’ve just given Tiger Covid!” McIlroy said in the interview. “‘This is horrendous!’ [The story said McIlroy laughed at this point.) 

“So we both had Covid going into the Open.”

Below is the complete exchange between McIlroy and journalist Paul Kimmage in the Sunday Independent, and you can read the entire interview here

Kimmage: “A week before you played in the JP McManus pro-am in Adare?”

McIlroy: “Yeah.”

Kimmage: “And got Covid?”

McIlroy: “Yeah.”

Kimmage: “I heard everyone had Covid there?”

McIlroy laughed at this point, the story said. 

Kimmage: “Go on.”

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McIlroy: “Tiger needed a rest on Wednesday. We had played two days of golf at Adare and the plan was to play Ballybunion on Thursday. I woke up that morning feeling a bit achy but didn’t really think anything of it. JP gave us his chopper and we went down with Sean [O’Flaherty, McIlroy’s manager] and Tiger’s manager, Rob [McNamara]. We got around fine, flew back to Adare for lunch, and as I’m getting up from the table, I’m sore and stiff and super tired. I said to Erica [his wife], ‘I’m feeling a bit weird. I’m just going upstairs to lie down for a bit.’ I slept for maybe two hours, and the sweat was just pouring off me, then Erica took my temperature and it was sky high. I rang Tiger: ‘I’m not feeling so good here.’ And he goes, ‘Oh, I feel OK.’ But he texted me at 10 o’clock that night, chills, fever, and I’m like, ‘F*****g hell, I’ve just given Tiger Covid! This is horrendous!’ [McIlroy laughed at this point, the story said.] So we both had Covid going into the Open.”

Kimmage: “F**k!”

McIlroy: “I had planned to go to St Andrews early but ended up quarantining at Adare, and it probably took me until the Sunday to start feeling better. If it had happened last year, with everything that was going on in my game, I would have been in a panic, but I was in a good place and thought, ‘I’ll be fine.’ On Tuesday night, I went to the Champions Dinner and it was lovely. I was sitting there drinking water and they poured a glass of wine, a lovely 2005 Bordeaux, and I was like, ‘Ahh, I’ll just have a little sip,’ but I couldn’t taste it. The whole week of the Open I didn’t have any taste, and everything smelled like vinegar to me. Everything. It was really strange.”

Kimmage: “When did it come back?”

McIlroy: “Probably a week later.”

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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.

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