Waving goodbye? Tearful Tiger Woods serenaded by St. Andrews crowd after difficult Open

    Tiger Woods acknowledges the crowd on the 18th hole during day two of The 150th Open.

    (CNN)No sooner had Tiger Woods taken his first step across the Swilcan Bridge, the thousands of fans at St. Andrews crammed behind ropes, filling grandstands and squeezed onto overlooking balconies rose as one to applaud.

    The ovation soundtracked the entirety of the 15-time major winner's long walk down the Old Course's 18th fairway, as a visibly emotional Woods -- removing his hat to salute the reception -- wiped away tears.
    It remains to be seen whether one of golf's greatest icons has played his final professional shot at one of the sport's most iconic venues, but if this was to be goodbye, then it was a fitting send-off.
      "The fans, the ovation and the warmth, it was an unbelievable feeling," Woods told reporters.
        "As I got closer to the green ... the ovation got louder, you could feel the warmth and you could feel the people from both sides. Felt like the whole tournament was right there."
        Woods acknowledges the crowd on the Swilcan Bridge.
        To play his favorite course again had been the 46-year-old's main focus during the grueling recovery process he has endured since a car accident in February 2021 left him with serious leg injuries.
        A three-time Open champion -- twice a winner at St. Andrews -- any hopes of Woods lifting a fairytale fourth Claret Jug were dashed early after a difficult first round left him tied for 146th on his return to the clubhouse and 14 shots adrift of the leader.
          It left him needing a miracle to make the cut and extend his potential farewell tour to the weekend. Despite an improved second round performance, a string of agonizingly short putts extinguished any faint chances of a fabled comeback as he finished nine over par.
          Woods is applauded and he makes his way down the 18th fairway.
          Speaking on the eve of the event, Woods -- despite asserting he felt "a lot stronger" -- had been candid about accepting the new limits of his body. Having withdrawn from the PGA Championship in May, he completed his rounds at the flatter St. Andrews course but could be seen limping during parts of Friday's session.
          And with the Open not potentially returning to the 'home of golf' until 2030, Woods admitted he may have played his last Open at the venue.
          "I'm not retiring from the game, but I don't know if I will be