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Rory McIlroy Says He Believes He Gave Tiger Woods COVID-19 Ahead of 2022 British Open

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVNovember 28, 2022

ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND - JULY 11: Tiger Woods of The United States and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland interact on the 17th during the Celebration of Champions Challenge during a practice round prior to The 150th Open at St Andrews Old Course on July 11, 2022 in St Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy said he gave Tiger Woods COVID-19 ahead of The Open at St. Andrews this past season.

McIlroy and Woods played together at the JP McManus Pro-Am in Ireland over a week before the British major in July. McIlroy first felt some symptoms during the round, but he said things got much worse two days later, as he explained to Paul Kimmage of the Independent (h/t ESPN):

"I slept for maybe two hours and the sweat was just pouring off me, then [his wife] Erica took my temperature and it was sky high. I rang Tiger: 'I'm not feeling so good here.' And he goes, 'Oh, I feel OK.' But he texted me at 10 o'clock that night, chills, fever, and I'm like, 'F---ing hell, I've just given Tiger COVID! This is horrendous!' So we both had COVID going into The Open."

McIlroy said he never actually tested positive for COVID-19 before The Open, although he said he lost the sense of taste during the Champions Dinner on Tuesday night ahead of the tournament.

"The whole week of The Open I didn't have any taste, and everything smelled like vinegar to me," McIlroy said. "Everything. It was really strange."

The 33-year-old still played in the tournament and fared well, finishing in third place at 18 strokes under par. McIlroy led the field going into the final round before getting passed by Cameron Smith on the back nine.

It was still his first top-10 finish at The Open since winning it in 2014.

Woods didn't have as good of a performance in his final turn at the historic St. Andrews golf course. The 46-year-old was recovering from a leg injury suffered in a 2021 car crash, and he struggled to a plus-nine finish while missing the cut.

It's unknown whether the illness passed from McIlroy had any effect on the round, although it likely didn't help.