ST ANDREWS • Tiger Woods has revealed that Rory McIlroy sought his advice after a football accident prevented the world No. 1 from defending the British Open starting on Thursday.
Woods, in fact, knew of McIlroy's woes - he ruptured his left ankle ligaments - days before it was revealed to the public.
No timeline has been placed on McIlroy's return to competitive golf but he will be the notable absentee when the 144th Open begins, while his ability to defend next month's PGA Championship is also in doubt.
"He sent me a photo the day he did it," Woods, who played the Old Course on Saturday and whose career has been hampered by serious injury in the past, told ESPN.
"We talked about it. He said, 'You've been through a lot of injuries over the years.' So he picked my brain. We had a good talk.
"He's doing the right thing, taking care of his body first before he gets back out here. No doubt he's frustrated that he's not going to be able to play in the Open Championship, especially here at St Andrews.
"And how well he's been playing of late, and this golf course really does set up well for him, too.
"That's the way it goes. We all get injured at one point in time. Sometimes it's through the sport or sometimes it's through fun activities. You just never know."
The 14-time Major winner insisted his own game is ready to compete for the Claret Jug despite a seven-year Major drought. He has not won the British Open since 2006 but won by eight and five shots respectively when it was held at St Andrews in 2000 and 2005.
"This is my favourite course on earth," Woods said. "I love it. And just to return here with all the memories I have, it never gets old. I love coming back. All the memories come rushing back."
But he said he was surprised by course conditions which are unusual for a links course in summer.
"I was shocked. I had seen photos of it a month ago. It was bone dry," he said. "It looked like it was going to be one of those dust bowls again; hard, fast, like the years I've played St Andrews. (But) It's changed. They got big rain and a lot of sun. It's totally changed.
"I'm going to have to do a little bit of feel around the greens, my putting. I wasn't expecting the firmness to be that soft. We made ball marks on the greens. I don't ever remember making ball marks around this place."
He reaffirmed the confidence he exuded after he closed with a bogey-free 67 at the Greenbrier Classic two Sundays ago.
Prior to that, his year had been one marked only by struggles, including at the US Open where he missed the cut, scoring 16 over.
He said: "Sunday at Greenbrier was probably the best I hit it in two years. (Coach) Chris (Como) told me it was the first time I led the field in proximity to the hole with my iron game.
"I feel like everything's coming around. I still need to get a feel for how this golf course is chasing."