Love of the Irish allows Tiger Woods to have a ball in first appearance since US PGA Championship

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Love of the Irish allows American great Tiger Woods to have a ball in his first appearance since withdrawing from the US PGA Championship Third Round in ‘a great deal of pain’

  • Tiger Woods featured in a pro-am event at Adare Manor in Limerick, Ireland
  • Woods last appeared at the US PGA Championship where he retired due to pain
  • The American will spend the week in Limerick before heading to St. Andrews 

The first time Tiger Woods played in Ireland, on a buddies trip before the 1998 Open, he was worried that the crowd walking with him down the fairways at Waterville would get too close.

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The late Payne Stewart, sensing his nerves, put an arm around his shoulder. ‘Ah Tiger, you never have to worry about the crowds here,’ Stewart reassured him. ‘They’ll show you all the respect and affection you need.’

Twenty-five years on, Tiger was back in Ireland drawing an extraordinary gathering to the first tee at the JP McManus pro-am on Monday. Veteran Irish pro Des Smyth, taking up announcing duties, echoed Stewart’s words from long ago in capturing the mood of the 40,000 spectators perfectly. ‘On the first tee, and I hope he won’t mind me taking the liberty, the ONE AND ONLY Tiger Woods!’ he said.

Tiger Woods was part of one of golf's most illustrious pro-am events ever assembled

Tiger Woods was part of one of golf’s most illustrious pro-am events ever assembled 

This was the first time Tiger had been seen since withdrawing from May’s US PGA Championship in a great deal of pain after the third round. He was relaxed enough in the build-up at Adare Manor, as Leona Maguire took advantage of a tee-time just after his to have a chat. 

‘I got a picture with him too!’ said the 27-year-old, demonstrating that even Ireland’s greatest female golfer can be awe-struck.

Woods first played in Ireland 25 years ago

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Woods first played in Ireland 25 years ago

How did Tiger look, with the Open now just nine days away? The heart sank when he told a Sky Sports interviewer on the first tee that he did not know how he would be able to negotiate driving a cart through the crowds. 

More encouraging was him forsaking the buggy after a fine approach from the middle of the first fairway to walk to the green. He ambled along with that limping shuffle we grew accustomed to at the Masters in April but at least there were no grimaces over the opening holes, as there were in Tulsa in May.

This was just Tiger’s eighth round in public in the 16 months, since his car accident. As with the other seven, it emphasised that the hardest thing for the 46-year-old these days is the physical challenge. His technique looks as sound as ever.

Adare Manor will host the 2027 Ryder Cup and a Ryder Cup-style crowd followed the game’s ultimate Pied Piper, despite the bogeys racking up. No one was bothered about his score. 

The legend pulled out of the USA PGA Championship Third Round with a great deal of pain

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The legend pulled out of the USA PGA Championship Third Round with a great deal of pain

It was perhaps the most illustrious pro-am field ever assembled, with 10 of the world’s top 12, including No 1 Scottie Scheffler and No 2 Rory McIlroy. All have bought into JP’s vision for this two-day event being staged for the first time in 12 years, and expected to raise £45million for local charities. 

Most will then move on to the Scottish Open on Thursday, which has the strongest field for any event in the history of the DP World Tour.

Tiger, naturally, will not be among them. He will remain at Adare Manor for the rest of the week before moving on to St Andrews and his favourite course in the world. If nothing else, the heartfelt reception in Limerick will certainly stand him in good stead for the raw emotion that lies ahead at the Home of Golf.

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