He walked briskly across the Swilcan Bridge.
And about 100 yards away from it, Tiger Woods started to tear up.
Was this the 15-time major champion’s final appearance at St. Andrews? Was this the last time we will see him at an Open Championship? Could this be it, hard stop? Those questions will undoubtedly be answered at a later time. For now, he was done at this year’s event, after rounds of 78 and 75, and the combination of everything made for an emotional moment on the Home of Golf’s 18th.
Playing partner Matt Fitzpatrick teed off first, then playing partner Max Homa. At 3:04 p.m. local time, Woods pegged his tee, took three warm-up swings, looked at the flag 343 yards away and hit his ball low and left.
At 3:05 p.m., the cheers began from the grandstand to his right. About 100 yards out, he handed his club to his caddie, Joe LaCava. At 3:06 p.m., he took his white hat off just ahead of the famed Swilcan Burn, saluted the crowd to his right and walked across without breaking stride. Other legends had stopped here both to wave and to wave goodbye; Woods kept moving.
“Didn’t stop,” analyst Nick Faldo, a six-time major winner, said on the USA Network broadcast. “So what does that mean?”
Woods put his hat back on. And a minute later, and about 100 or so yards away from the bridge, he began to tear up.
Woods mouthed, “Thank you,” to the grandstands on his right, and to the grandstands to his left, which are also to the right of the adjacent 1st fairway. He lifted his cap again. He wiped away his tears with his left hand.
“I thought so,” Faldo said on the broadcast.
At 3:08, Woods reached his ball.
He chipped on and two-putted for par as another ovation showered him with thanks.