The Open: Justin Thomas has absent Tiger Woods 'in my ear'

Tiger Woods may not be at the 149th Open in person but at least one of the leading Claret Jug contenders is expecting the three-time winner to give him lots of advice over the next four days.

Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods, pictured during the PNC Championship in Florida last December, are close friends. Picture: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

“It’s obviously a bummer not having him out here,” said world No 3 Justin Thomas of Woods continuing to recover from the serious leg injuries sustained in a car crash in Los Angeles in February.

“But we talk quite a bit and I’m sure he’ll be in my ear all this week. He doesn’t sleep a whole lot, so he’ll probably be watching the golf.

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“Many times I’ll hit a bad shot or miss a short putt and he’s the first person I get something from. He keeps me humble and I think that’s why we have the friendship that we do.”

Woods was gearing up for his Masters title defence when he suffered his injuries in a single-vehicle accident in California, with the 15-time major winner having offered no indication about when he will be back on a golf course again.

“He’s unfortunately been through that [out injured] more than others,” added Thomas, the 2017 US PGA champion. “But I’ve said to him many times that ‘I’m ready for you to start doing stuff again because you’re annoying the hell out of me (smiling)’.”

Like Woods, Thomas loves links golf, hence why he’s started to play in the Scottish Open as part of his preparation for golf’s oldest major. “I don’t remember exactly what year it was,” he said in reply to being asked to recall his first memory of watching The Open.

“But, being the golf nut that I was, even when I was seven or eight years old I would watch the ESPN coverage for eight or nine hours in a row.”

Thomas, who is making his fifth appearance in The Open, having tied for 11th at Portrush two years ago, enjoyed getting his hands on the Claret Jug on a flight home with Jordan Spieth after his success at Birkdale in 2017.

“I have held it,” he said, “but I wouldn’t have unless Jordan told me he drank out of it when Zach [Johnson, the 2015 champion] won and then won it the next year. So I’m like, ‘give me that thing’.”

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