London (AFP) – Three time British Open winner Tiger Woods is to play in this year’s championship for the 20th time but first since 2015, tournament organisers announced on Wednesday.
The 42-year-old American — a 14 time Major winner — returned to competitive golf this season after missing most of the previous two years through injury and finished tied for 32nd at last month’s Masters.
“Three-time Champion Golfer Tiger Woods plans to tee it up at Carnoustie for The 147th Open after confirming his entry into golf’s original Championship,” read the statement from the organisers.
“The confirmation of the entry from one of the greatest golfers ever to grace the sport will delight fans around the world.”
Woods, who is playing at the “fifth major” The Players Championship in his first competitive outing since The Masters, has played two Opens at Carnoustie, finishing seventh in 1999 and 12th in 2007 which is the last time the Open was held at the course.
Woods, champion in 2000, 2005 and 2006, missed the cut in 2015 and his best finish since his last victory was tied for third in 2012.
As recently as last September, before he underwent back fusion surgery, Woods was uncertain he would ever play golf again. But, since the operation, he has rediscovered the club head speed which he once took for granted.
In March, he registered the fastest club head speed by any U.S. tour player this season by clocking 129.2 miles, or 207.9 kilometres, per hour on a drive at the Valspar Championship.
“I didn’t have any speed the last four or five years because my back wasn’t very good,” Woods said. “What I thought was speed was not. It was slow motion.
“Swinging at 115 mph an hour is not very quick. I didn’t realise for a number of years how bad my back was until I had it fixed. It’s kind of neat. I’m seeing speeds and velocities I haven’t seen since my early 20s.”