(CNN)A year ago, Tiger Woods was just hoping he would be able to walk again. On Tuesday, he was all smiles as he navigated his final practice round ahead of a historic Open Championship at St. Andrews in Scotland.
The Open: Tiger Woods feeling 'a lot stronger' but accepting of his limited schedule future
The 15-time major winner has made a fast yet painful recovery to golf since sustaining serious leg injuries in a car accident in February 2021, opening with a remarkable comeback at the Masters in April after almost 17 months away from the sport.
Woods made the cut but -- with a rod and pins in his right leg -- visibly struggled with the hilly Augusta terrain. He made the cut again at the PGA Championship in Tulsa the following month, but withdrew from the major after the third round having admitted to extensive pain in his leg. In June, he announced he would not play the US Open to give his body "more time."
Yet despite these struggles, Woods had set one clear target the minute he realized he could once again play to a "high level" -- to play the 150th Open at "the home of golf."
"My focus was to get back here," the 46-year-old told reporters at St. Andrews on Tuesday.
"It's incredible, the history behind it, the champions that have won here ... this does feel like it's the biggest Open Championship we've ever had.
"This whole year has been something that I'm very proud of ... to be able to play in these tournaments when it looked like I would never have this opportunity ever again," he added.
Earmarked as his favorite course, the Old Course at St. Andrews holds a special place in Woods' heart as the host to two of his three Open wins in 2000 and 2005 respectively. The first of these wins saw the American become one of just five golfers -- and the youngest -- to complete the Career Grand Slam.
A flatter course than Augusta, it also offers a more accommodating environment to Woods, aided by conditioning work in the months since that have helped him to feel "a lot stronger."
"I've gotten a chance to work in the weight room and get stronger and get the endurance better in my leg," he said.
"Playing Augusta, my leg was not in any condition to play 72 holes. It just ran out of gas, but it's different now."