‘It looks as good as ever’ – Tiger Woods ready to make doubters eat words with Justin Thomas impressed by American great

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TIGER WOODS is ready to make his doubters eat their words at The Open this week.

Justin Thomas dismissed Sir Nick Faldo’s claim that there is “no chance” of Woods overcoming his injury problems to win the Claret Jug for a fourth time.

Justin Thomas has revealed he would not be surprised if Tiger Woods challenges for the Claret Jug next weekend

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Justin Thomas has revealed he would not be surprised if Tiger Woods challenges for the Claret Jug next weekendCredit: Getty

Faldo even suggested St Andrews could prove to be Woods’ final competitive appearance before heading into retirement.

But after walking 36 holes with Woods at the Old Course in less than 18 hours at the weekend, USPGA champion Thomas had other ideas.

He said: “His swing still looks as good as it ever has.

“So would I be surprised if he challenged for the title again this week? No, not for a minute.

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“I’ve learned better than to question anything about him.

Woods and Thomas made a surprise appearance at St Andrews at 8pm on Saturday night.

They walked all 18 holes — chipping, putting and hitting the occasional wedge shot.

They were back out early yesterday morning for the first official practice round and played all 18 holes.

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Woods, 46, is still walking with a pronounced limp following his car crash in February 2021 that almost cost him his right leg.

But there was nothing wrong with his shot-making.

He hit his approach shot for a tap-in birdie at the seventh and followed up by almost holing his tee shot at the short eighth.

But he kept the best for last. A 340-yard drive down the fearsome 17th left him only 155 yards to the flag — and after tugging his second shot into the Road Hole Bunker he splashed out to six inches.

That earned him a mighty roar but it was dwarfed by the cheer that went up as he drove the green on the 356-yard 18th, leaving a 20-footer for eagle.

His putt pulled up a couple of inches short of the hole — but Woods broke into a big grin as a spectator yelled: “We’ll give you that one, Tiger.”

Thomas admitted he spent most of the 36 holes trying to get the inside track on St Andrews from his playing partner, who broke the then Open scoring record at 19 under par when he won by eight shots at the course in 2000.

He triumphed there again five years later.

JT said: “I’ve been picking his brains, although I understand he’s going to be withholding some information.

“I’m trying to wheedle it out of him and get as much out of him as I can, because he’s done pretty well around this place.”

That assessment flew in the face of Faldo’s pessimistic view of Woods’ prospects, based on what he saw at last week’s JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor.

Faldo said: “I don’t think there’s a chance of him winning here again. He used a cart at Adare Manor to rest the leg.

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“Even though St Andrews looks flat, there are so many undulations that it’s going to be physically really hard work for him.

“If you’re going to retire, then this is the place to retire — but is it too early?”

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