Tiger Woods says he would “love to play at St Andrews” on his “favourite course in the world” when the 150th Open is staged in the Scottish town next July.
The 45-year-old, who won two of his three Opens on the Old Course, faces a race to be fit after sustaining serious injuries in a car crash last February.
“I would love to be able to play that Open Championship, there’s no doubt. Physically, hopefully I can,” he said.
“The tournament’s not going to go anywhere, but I need to get there.”
However, the 15-time major champion, who nearly lost his right leg in the single vehicle crash near Los Angeles, still does not know if he will be able to return to competitive golf.
And he says that while a return to playing a full tour schedule is highly unlikely, he wants to target certain one-off tournaments. It is clear among them is next year’s Open.
“I would love to play at St Andrews,” said Woods who was victorious at St Andrews in 2000 and 2005.
“It’s my favourite golf course in the world. To be a two-time Open champion there, just being a part of the champions dinner is really neat.
“From my first one in 2005, Peter Thomson was still alive, and I sat right next to him and to hear him tell stories of when he came over and the shots he played and how he did it, that was awesome.”
However, Woods, who suffered open fractures to both the upper and lower portions of his right leg as well as ankle damage, admits he remains a long way from being able to physically compete at the highest level.
“I’ve got to be good enough to do it,” he said while promoting his Hero World Challenge tournament in the Bahamas which starts on Thursday.
“So I’ve got to prove to myself in practice that I’m good enough. I’ll chip and putt any of these guys, but the golf courses are longer than just a chip-and-putt course.
“We’re not going to be playing the par-three course at Augusta to win the Masters, so I’ve got to get a bigger game than that. I’ve got a long way to go in the rehab process to be able to do something like that.”
Woods is now able to hit golf shots again but they no longer fly as far as they once did.
“To see some of my shots fall out of the sky a lot shorter than they used to is a little eye-opening, but at least I’m able to do it,” he said.
“That’s something that for a while there it didn’t look like I was going to be able to do. Now I’m able to participate in the sport of golf. Now to what level? I do not know that.”
He admitted that there were genuine fears his right leg might have needed amputation.
“That was on the table,” he said.
“I was in the hospital for only three weeks. I was in a hospital bed for three months. That in itself is difficult.
“Being assisted everywhere I go, not being able to move anywhere. I was just looking forward to just getting outside.
“You know, eventually I got to a point where they could wheelchair me outside safely and I could feel the sun, that was like a milestone.”
Woods would not be drawn on his memories of the accident which happened after his car left the road at around 87 mph in a 45 mph zone. “All those answers have been answered in the investigation,” he said.
During the period the former world number one has been away from the game there have been persistent rumours of a breakaway super-league, potentially fronted by Australian Greg Norman with backing from Saudi Arabia.
But Woods would not back such a move.
“I’ve decided for myself that I’m supporting the PGA Tour, that’s where my legacy is,” he said.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have won 82 events on this tour and 15 major championships and been a part of the World Golf Championships, the start of them and the end of them. So I have an allegiance to the PGA Tour.”
Big question marks remain over whether we ever again see golf’s most dominant force competing on the American circuit.
And Woods is reconciled that a similar comeback to the one that followed his 2017 back fusion operation, which culminated two years later in a tumultuous Masters triumph, is now beyond even his powers of recovery.
“I don’t see that type of trend going forward for me,” he admitted. His leg and still troublesome back could not stand the physical demands to scale another golfing Everest.
“That’s OK and I’m at peace with that, I’ve made the climb enough times,” he said.