‘Couldn’t Wish For Better Year’ – Woods Completes Road To Redemption

USA team member and captain Tiger Woods holds the Presidents Cup after their win over the International team following the golf tournament in Melbourne on December 15, 2019. SIMON BAKER / AFP

 

Two years ago the future for Tiger Woods looked bleak to the point of darkness.

Four back surgeries, countless knee operations, marital strife and run-ins with the law meant Woods had not won a major since 2008, had no tournament victories since 2013 and had seen his world ranking plummet to 656.

But on Sunday, US player-captain Tiger Woods capped a year that has seen one of the most memorable comebacks in sporting history by driving his team to a 16-14 victory over Ernie Els’ Internationals in the 13th Presidents Cup in Melbourne.

The second coming of Tiger began with a drought-ending victory at the Tour Championship 15 months ago and accelerated with a 15th major and fifth green jacket at the US Masters in Augusta.

Having returned to the world’s top 10, Woods needed yet more surgery to his troublesome left knee in August before writing another remarkable chapter of his storied career.

In his first tournament appearance after the arthroscopic operation, Woods equalled Sam Snead’s record of 82 US PGA Tour wins when he won the inaugural Zozo Championship in Japan.

“It’s been an amazing year,” a beaming Woods told Golf TV in Melbourne. “I’m speechless.

“To have won a major championship, a green jacket, to have tied Sam and to have won a cup with all these guys, I couldn’t have asked for a better year.”

The road to redemption began with his long-awaited win at the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup finale, at East Lake, Atlanta, in September 2018.

Woods had endured two years out of the game and  shuffled out of the February 2018 Dubai Desert Classic, his tournament return, with back spasms, causing observers to question whether he could compete again at the highest level.

 ‘I don’t think I’ll play again’ 

The thought had also crossed the mind of Woods.

Less than a year earlier he had hobbled into the Champions Dinner on the eve of the 2017 US Masters nursing yet another back injury, telling those assembled: “I’m done, I don’t think I’ll ever play golf again.”

But two-and-a-half years later, Woods was unsurpassed at Royal Melbourne as he won all three of his matches and overtook Phil Mickelson for the most wins in Presidents Cup history.

“How about that? I like that stat,” smiled Woods, after being told his win-loss-tie Cup record was now 27-15-1 against his great rival Mickelson’s 26-16-13.

It left Els, not for the first time in his career, having to pick up the pieces after a defeat to Woods.

The big South African, widely praised for his captaincy which saw the Internationals lead after every session until Sunday when it mattered, might also regret his words on the eve of the tournament.

“I don’t think today (Woods) has the same kind of aura he had in the past,” Els had said.

Young Mexican Abraham Ancer is another player who might want to be careful about what he says in future.

“I would like to play against Tiger,” Ancer said before the Presidents Cup began. “Winning a match in the singles would be very special.”

He came up against a ruthless Woods who won 3 and 2.

“Abe wanted it,” chided Woods. “And he got it.”

Woods will fly home today to celebrate Christmas and then his 44th birthday on December 30.

Soon it will be 2020 and the continuation of the second coming of Tiger, with no one doubting more majors can follow to put him closer to Jack Nicklaus’s all-time mark of 18.

There could also be a crack at Olympic gold in Tokyo.

But first he can be forgiven for putting his feet up. “I am now retired for the year,” laughed Woods, before heading off to join the US team’s celebrations.

AFP

Nigeria’s Georgia Oboh Aims To Make History At British Open

Georgia Oboh

 

Nigeria’s Georgia Oboh is aiming to become the first Nigerian to feature in the prestigious Women’s British Open when she competes with 107 golfers across the world in the final qualifying tournament for the 44th edition of the tournament on Monday July 29 at the Ashridge Golf Club, in Little Gaddesden, England.

The Edo State-born golfer has continued to put Nigeria on the global map and she is aiming for one of the places available in the qualifying tournament.

Oboh played a score of 75 (3over par) at the Pre-Qualifying tournament held at Sandy Lodge Golf Club on July 15 to secure her place in the final qualifying competition. A confident Oboh said she is unfazed by the challenges she had faced so far since turning professional earlier this year, as she is following her dream of becoming the first female Nigerian to win a major title.

READ ALSO: 15 Countries To Compete For 2019 ITTF Africa Cup In Lagos

The one-day tournament will decide the players that will join the elite players that had already been listed by the organizers for the championship holding at Woburn Golf Club in Buckinghamshire, England.

The teenage sensation has been undergoing her apprenticeship with the PGA of Nigeria (PGAN) under the tutelage of Mathew Lawrence of Ikoyi Club.

Even before making it to the main event which tees off on August 1, the former World Teen Champion has become the first Nigerian to get to the final Qualifying tournament of the most established and historic major championship in women’s golf.

The venue of the British Open, Woburn Golf Club has a rich affiliation with the event and professional golf tournaments having first hosted the Women’s British Open in 1984 and ten times since then, most recently in 2016 when Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn prevailed by three strokes on the critically acclaimed Marquess’ course.

Tiger Woods Wins 15th Major Title With Spectacular Masters Victory

Tiger Woods Wins 15th Major Title With Spectacular Masters Victory
Tiger Woods of the United States plays an approach on the seventh hole during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019, in Augusta, Georgia. Mike Ehrmann / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Tiger Woods completed an epic “full circle” comeback from career-threatening injury and scandal by winning the 83rd Masters on Sunday, capturing his 15th major title with an unprecedented back-nine rally.

Ending an 11-year major drought, the 43-year-old American superstar — who underwent spinal fusion surgery in 2017 due to chronic back pain — seized his first major title since the 2008 US Open.

“It’s overwhelming just because of what has transpired,” Woods said. “I could barely walk. Couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t walk. Couldn’t do anything.

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“To have the opportunity to come back, it’s one of the biggest wins I’ve ever had for sure.”

Winning a fifth Masters title, and his first since 2005, cemented a fairytale comeback to the pinnacle of golf for Woods, whose career imploded after a 2009 sex scandal and nagging knee and back injuries.

“It’s overwhelming just because of what has transpired,” Wood said. “I was just lucky to be playing again.”

With fans chanting his name, an emotional Woods walked off the 18th green and hugged his mother Kultida, daughter Sam and son Charlie just as he had embraced his late father Earl there after his first major victory at the 1997 Masters.

“It has come full circle,” Woods said. “This tournament has meant so much to me and to have everyone here means so much to me and my family.

“Now to be the champion — 22 years between wins is a long time — it’s unreal for me to experience this. I just couldn’t be more happy, more excited. I’m just kind of at a loss for words.”

Racing to finish before an oncoming thunderstorm, players created their own electric atmosphere, spectators roaring repeatedly for sensational shotmaking on one of golf’s iconic stages.

Woods fired a final-round two-under par 70 to finish on 13-under 275 for a one-shot victory to capture a $2.07 million (1.82 million euros) top prize and the green jacket symbolizing Masters supremacy.

“We couldn’t be happier,” Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley told Woods. “You’ve made history once again at Augusta National.”

An all-American trio of three-time major winner Brooks Koepka, world number two Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele shared second on 276.

“I don’t know if there are words — I’m sure he’s ecstatic about it,” Koepka said. “To have the injuries and come back and do what he has done, it has been tremendous to watch.”

– Jack says ‘Well done’ –

It was the fifth Masters title for Woods, his first since 2005, and it moved him three shy of the all-time record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus.

“A big well done from me to Tiger,” Nicklaus told telecaster CBS. “I’m so happy for him and for the game of golf this is so fantastic.”

The triumph was the first major victory for Woods when he did not lead after 54 holes, having started the day two adrift of reigning British Open champion Francesco Molinari.

Woods served notice he had returned to form by contending last year at the British Open and PGA before snapping a five-year title drought by capturing the Tour Championship.

Woods grabbed the lone lead on a jam-packed leaderboard with a tap-in birdie at the par-5 15th, a four-foot birdie putt following at the par-3 16th to double the advantage, allowing him to bogey the last and still win.

“I was as patient as I’ve been in a number of years out there,” Woods said. “I was controlling my shot placement, especially seeing that board. It was a who’s who.

“All these different scenarios keep flying around. It was an amazing buzz to follow what was going on and yet still focus on what I was trying to do out there. I liked it.”

Woods parred 17 and walked up to the 18th green to crowds 20-people deep applauding with delight, but he kept a stoic visage until the job was complete, a tap-in for bogey followed by a fist pump and a scream of joy in celebration of one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history.

“I know I screamed,” Woods said.

– One shy of Snead’s mark –

Woods, one shy of matching Nicklaus for the most career Masters wins, won his 81st career US PGA victory, one shy of the all-time record held by Sam Snead.

He also set a record for the longest gap between Masters triumphs, the 14-year spread one year longer than the old mark set by South African Gary Player from 1961 to 1974.

Woods, Molinari, Schauffele, Koepka and Johnson were together late on 12-under. None could go lower except Woods, with Molinari undone at the par-5 15th when his approach struck a tree limb and found water on the way to a double-bogey.

“The energy out there was brilliant,” Molinari said. “With Tiger being there, people were loving it. I gave it my best. I’m proud of that.”

Augusta National moved the final round to Sunday morning due to storms expected to arrive in the afternoon, when leaders would typically be battling for the title.

AFP

Tiger Woods Tees Off As Dramatic Masters Final Round Begins

Tiger Tees Off As Dramatic Masters Final Round Kicks Off
Tiger Woods of the United States plays an approach on the seventh hole during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. Mike Ehrmann / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Tiger Woods teed off in Sunday’s final round of the Masters chasing his 15th major title, trying to capture his fifth green jacket to end an 11-year major drought.

The 43-year-old American superstar, back on form after 2017 spinal fusion surgery following years of nagging back pain, played alongside compatriot Tony Finau and Italy’s Francesco Molinari in the last group at Augusta National Golf Club.

Reigning British Open champion Molinari seized the 54-hole lead on 13-under par 203 with Woods and Finau two strokes behind.

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Brooks Koepka, last year’s US Open, and PGA Championship winner, began three adrift with fellow American Webb Simpson, the 2012 US Open, and England’s Ian Poulter four off the pace.

“It’s golf, so the favorite is probably the golf course out there waiting for us,” Molinari said.

“We’re all very close. It’s nice to be a little bit ahead, but you might just need one hole to change. You never know how it’s going to go, especially around a course like here.”

Augusta National advanced the final round to Sunday morning in a safety move with thunderstorms expected to arrive Sunday afternoon, when leaders would typically be battling for the Masters crown.

The storms, with hail and high winds producing tornadoes, led to three deaths and severe damage in moving across the southeastern United States.

The Masters, which has not had a Monday conclusion since 1983, decided to cancel its green jacket ceremony after the finish in order to hurry spectators to the exits faster due to the approaching storm.

Racing nature’s fury to finish on the weekend added more tension to the unfolding Masters drama, which centered on Woods and his chance to win his first major title since the 2008 US Open on the same course where he won his first-ever major in 1997.

“At 23, I had a lot more years in front of me,” Woods said. “At 43 I don’t. It’s just reality.”

Woods, who could move nearer Jack Nicklaus’s the all-time major win record of 18, contended last year at the British Open and PGA before snapping a five-year win drought by capturing the Tour Championship, his 80th career US PGA title leaving him two shy of matching Sam Snead’s all-time record.

Electrifying shotmaking this week at Augusta National, cheered on by supportive crowds anxious to witness history, has Woods on the verge of a fairytale conclusion to a fightback from back pain so crippling he was unable to play with his children.

Woods has never fired so low in a Masters and not won the title but he has also never won a major title when not leading after 54 holes.

– Molinari, Finau contend –

Plenty of rivals were in place to deny Woods his long-sought next major trophy.

Molinari, whose first Masters appearance was as a caddie to older brother Edoardo in 2006, outfought Woods last year at Carnoustie to win his first major title. The Italian then went 5-0 in a heroic Ryder Cup turn in France over an American team on which Woods went 0-5.

“The key for me is really going to go out and just do my thing. Staying aggressive,” Molinari said. “Hit the shots. Hit the middle of the clubface as often as I can and make smart decisions, and we’ll just take it from there.”

Finau, the US PGA’s first player of Tongan and Samoan heritage, leads the week in driving distance with 318.8 yards.

“I’m driving the ball nicely,” Finau said. “And on this golf course, I can attack the golf course if I’m hitting my driver well.”

Lurking as well is Koepka, who seeks his third victory in the past four majors — a success rate seen only by Ben Hogan’s three in a row in 1953 and the “Tiger Slam” four in a row by Woods in 2000-01.

“I’m pretty comfortable being up there on the leaderboard in a major come Sunday,” Koepka said. “I feel good and I like my chances.”

AFP

Torgah Wins Eko Challenge Cup

 

Ghana’s Vincent Torgah has emerged winner of the 2019 Eko Challenge Cup with -18 under par after 72 holes of play.

The Ghanaian started the week with an opening round -3 under par (69), tied second alongside his compatriot Emos Koblarh, who also returned a -3 under par to keep them a stroke ahead of Sunday Olapade and 2 strokes behind the day one leader Christopher Ambe who shot a -5 (67) in his opening round.

However, Torgah took the front seat following a -5 under (67) on day two and went on to post another (68) -4 under par in the third round, before sealing the deal with another (66) -6 under in the final round of the tournament. The Ghanaian also stepped an inch by setting a four days new course record of -18 under par in four consecutive rounds and each round in 60’s. With a (69)(67)(68)(67) a gross of 271 over four days.

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Beating his closest rival by eleven strokes, Sunday Olapade who finished 2nd opened in his first round with a (70) -2 under par and kept it going on day two with another -2 under (70) and that shot him ahead of Emos Koblarh on the leader board after the second round. Olapade also had a flawless -3 under (69) in his third round to extend his lead over Ghana’s Emos Koblarh at -7 under par before dropping a shot in his final round after failing to hold off the pressure mounted by Torgah during the final round where he carded a (73) +1 over par.

Koblarh recorded a (69)(73)(71)(72) over (72) holes to sit at solo third with a final score of -3 under par. The new entrant confirmed playing at the championship is good exposure for him. “I know the boy’s are good, so i am just here to compete with my colleagues. I am happy to have come this far he said.

Day one leader Christopher Ambe finished 4th with a (67) (75) (72) and (76). Francesco Perez of Spain and Nigeria’s S.J. Odegha finished joint 5th. MIKE UBI and Zimbabwean VISITOR MAPWANYA who holds the Lakowe Lake’s course record of -8 under par, a feet he achieved during his second round finished joint 7th.

Other players who finished amongst the top ten on the leaderboard include Cameroonian Nji Priestly who finished solo 9th while the 10th spot was shared by Kamalu Bako, Chidi Tobias, and Francis Epe.

Tiger Hunting More Majors In 2019

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 24: Tiger Woods plays a shot during the Pro-Am Tournament for The Match: Tiger vs Phil at Shadow Creek Golf Course on November 24, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Christian Petersen/Getty Images for The Match/AFP Christian Petersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

A rejuvenated Tiger Woods will head into the New Year excited knowing he’s won six of his 14 Major Championship titles on three of the four 2019 host venues.

Former world number one Woods made a successful return to golf this year after missing most of the previous two seasons through injury.

While Woods finished his season with a dramatic, emotional win in the Tour Championship in Atlanta in September, he fell short in the season’s Majors, tying for sixth at the British Open and finishing runner-up at the PGA Championship.

Next year, however, Woods’ Major campaign will feature three stops on courses where he has won before.

As well as four victories in the Masters at Augusta National, Woods has also won at Pebble Beach, venue for the US Open, and Bethpage Black in New York’s Long Island, which is hosting the PGA Championship.

Woods said Tuesday his performances in the final two Majors of 2018 suggested he was close to winning his 15th big one.

“What I did in the last two major championships, I gave myself a chance to win both of them and I was right there,” Woods said in Albany, where he was speaking ahead of this week’s Hero World Challenge.

“That’s ultimately what we want to have happen. Now it’s about trying to get everything to peak together like I did for those two weeks to do it again four more times. That’s the trick.

“As you look at anyone who’s ever played this game, that is the most difficult thing to do in this game.

“That’s why most people haven’t won a lot of major championships, because it’s so hard to do.

“Fortunately, I was able to do it 14 times and hopefully more in the future.”

Captain’s role 

Woods meanwhile said his enthusiasm to represent the United States in team events was undiminished despite an unhappy return to duty at the Ryder Cup in September.

The 42-year-old said he is determined to be a playing captain when he skippers the USA in the Presidents Cup in Royal Melbourne.

Woods would become the first “playing” captain since the inaugural event in 1994 when Hale Irwin captained the victorious USA side.

“Yes, I would like to captain the side and there has been that precedent already been set, 1994 when Hale Irwin was captain,” said Woods. “If I make the team on points, yes, I’ll play.”

Woods meanwhile defended his participation in last week’s head-to-head $9 million winner-take-all contest against Phil Mickelson last week in Las Vegas, which was criticised as a cash-grab by some critics.

“I think we’ve got some positive feedback overall,” Woods said of the encounter, which was won by Mickelson.

“Obviously, there’s some things we can do as far as interaction and as far as play. I wish we both would have played better, but neither one of us putted well that day and there were some tough hole locations out there.”

“So, maybe going forward, just don’t quite have the greens so fast or the pins so difficult, but also as short as the golf course was playing, we should have made at least seven, eight birdies a piece. We just did not.”

Australia, England, South Korea Share Lead At Golf World Cup

David Mark Jnr. Advocates Better Funding For Golf In Nigeria

 

Cameron Smith birdied the 18th to give Australia a share of the lead with England and South Korea on the opening day of the golf World Cup on Thursday.

They conquered the Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne with 10-under par 62s in opening fourball action, with Malaysia, Belgium and defending champions Denmark a stroke further back.

The American pairing of Kyle Stanley and Matt Kuchar are four off the pace in a group of seven nations, including France and Japan.

Smith and partner Mark Leishman were among the favorites coming into the US$7 million tournaments and they lived up to expectations in blustery conditions, although forecast storms held off.

“I think we just combined really well,” Smith said at the 28-team tournament.

“Leish was saying once one of us was in trouble, the other just had to hit the center of the green and give ourselves a birdie opportunity from 20 or 30 feet. We both played really well all day and just kept being smart.”

Nothing would make English Ryder Cup teammates Ian Poulter and Tyrrell Hatton happier than spoiling the Australian party.

It looked like the rival sporting nations would be playing together in the second-round foursomes, but a late charge by the impressive South Korean team of An Byeong-hun and Kim Si-woo vaulted them into a share of the lead.

Australia will instead tee-off on Friday with Malaysian duo Gavin Green and Ben Leong, who combined for two eagles and five birdies.

“It was good team golf really. I think it was just solid all around,” said Green.

“The holes I birdied, he didn’t birdie, so we always had alternate holes, which we did well on and it is a good thing especially in this format.”

England sunk 10 birdies, and Poulter, a team event veteran, said it was crucial to do so in the fourball format to get into a good position.

In fourballs, or better ball, both players have a ball but only the better score counts for each hole. In foursomes or alternate shot, teammates take it in turns to play the same ball.

“Foursomes (the second and fourth rounds) is a completely different game,” Poulter said.

“You need to put the ball in play and if we get blustery weather, it’s going to be tricky.

“Foursomes is the day when you can take yourself out of the tournament pretty quickly. The tournament will be won or lost on Friday and Sunday in the foursomes rounds.”

Hatton said Poulter saved the team on the back nine, with his putting helping them drop six birdies to come home in 30, two better than the Australians could muster on the homeward stretch.

“It was a frustrating back nine for me. I was pretty disappointed. I was fortunate to have Ian by my side,” Hatton said. “He played great today and we are in a great position with three days to go.”

Belgium’s Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry matched England’s back nine scores of 30.

AFP

Trump Arrives At Golf Course As McCain’s Funeral Underway

An armored vehicle arrives with US President Donald Trump at the Trump National Golf Club September 1, 2018 in Sterling, Virginia. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump on Saturday went to one of his golf courses as the final public ceremony honoring late US senator John McCain was underway in Washington.

The president’s motorcade arrived at Trump National Golf Club in Loudoun County, Virginia around 11:16 am (1516 GMT) while eulogies to McCain were being delivered at his funeral at Washington’s National Cathedral.

Earlier, McCain’s daughter Meghan had delivered a tearful address which pointedly took aim at the president’s campaign slogan.

“The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great,” she said to applause from an audience that included Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law.

Trump meanwhile was seen wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap on Saturday morning.

McCain was one of Trump’s sharpest critics and made clear in one of his final wishes as he struggled with brain cancer that he did not want the president to attend his funeral.

Trump waited several days after McCain’s death to praise him directly and belatedly lowered flags to half-staff across the country only after bowing to pressure.

The roots of their feud go back to when Trump announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in June 2015, suggesting that many Mexican immigrants were criminals and “rapists.”

McCain denounced him for using language that “fired up the crazies,” while Trump said McCain was a “dummy” who had barely managed to graduate from the US Naval Academy.

He went on to attack McCain’s service in the military, saying of the onetime prisoner of war: “I like people that weren’t captured.”

AFP

Tiger Equals Best Comeback Score, Leaps Into National Hunt

Tiger Woods looks on from the 18th green during the second round of the Quicken Loans National at TPC Potomac on June 29, 2018 in Potomac, Maryland. Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP
Rob Carr / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Tiger Woods roared into contention for his first victory since 2013, matching the best round of his injury comeback with a five-under-par 65 Friday at the US PGA Quicken Loans National.

With a spectacular chip-in and four putts beyond 15 feet among his seven birdies, the 14-time major winner stood on five-under 135 after 36 holes at TPC Potomac, only four strokes off the early clubhouse lead held by American Beau Hossler.

“I’m not that far from putting it together where I can win,” Woods said. “The scores aren’t going to be that low. The course is getting a little bit more difficult.”

Former world number one Woods, who hadn’t played in the event he hosts since 2015 due to back pain, is making the 11th start of his return from spinal fusion surgery.

While his 79 career US PGA victories are three shy of Sam Snead’s all-time record, Woods has not won a title since the 2013 WGC Bridgestone Invitational and last captured a major at the 2008 US Open.

“I’m not that far back,” Woods said. “And it’s going to be a tough weekend. It’s going to be hot. It’s going to be long grinds.”

Woods had produced his best round of 2018 at May’s Players Championship with a seven-under 65 third round. The last time he went lower was an opening-round six-under 64 at Greensboro in 2015.

“You’ve got to be patient on this course. There are not a lot of low scores out there,” Woods said. “Just got to let my round build.”

Woods showed confidence and comfort with a new mallet putter being used in competition for only the second day in place of the Scotty Cameron putter he used in winning 13 major titles.

“It’s releasing a little bit more than my old Scotty,” Woods said. “It’s a tweener between my training putter at home and what I normally go with, so just go ahead and trust.

“It’s a good feeling for me. It felt good today. I started on my line with the right pace and a lot of them fell.”

In all, Woods hit 10 of 14 fairways, reached 13 of 18 greens in regulation and needed only 26 putts.

“I was happy with it,” Woods said. “I thought something in the mid-60s would have been a good score and I was able to shoot that.”

Woods, ranked 82nd, began on the back nine and sank a 24-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole.

The 42-year-old American took a bogey at 11 after sending his approach into deep grass but bounced back by sinking a 19-foot birdie putt at the par-3 12th.

Woods followed with a 16-foot birdie putt at the par-4 15th, but missed a six-footer to bogey the par-3 17th.

– ‘Bonus’ birdie chip-in –
Again Woods responded with a birdie, chipping in from 32 yards at the par-4 18th, sparking a roar from spectators as he made the turn.

“It was a bonus,” Woods said. “It was pretty sweet because I was trying to hit a high cut spinner in there and it worked out perfectly.”

After driving the green at the 606-yard par-5 second, Woods missed a 40-footer for eagle but tapped in for birdie, then dropped in a 25-foot birdie putt at the par-3 third.

Woods missed a 15-foot birdie putt at the fourth but landed his approach at the fifth 2 1/2 feet from the hole and tapped in for birdie.

Woods showed his short game was solid also, blasting out from bunkers at the eighth and ninth to save pars with tense putts from five feet.

“I didn’t want to lose it on the last couple of holes,” Woods said. “And I could have easily lost it, but I made two nice saves.”

Tiger Can Still Beat My Record, Says Nicklaus

Tiger Woods of the United States plays a shot from a bunker during practice rounds prior to THE PLAYERS Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 9, 2018 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images/AFP

 

Jack Nicklaus said Monday he believes Tiger Woods can still overhaul his record of 18 Major Championship victories.

Woods last won a major almost exactly 10 years ago, when he battled to a memorable playoff win at the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines in Southern California.

That victory left him four shy of Nicklaus’s tally of 18 majors, a target that has looked increasingly beyond Woods in recent years during long injury layoffs.

Nicklaus however, who will host this week’s Memorial tournament in Ohio, said he is convinced Woods can win Majors again after playing with him on Monday at Shinnecock Hills, the venue for the 2018 US Open.

“While Tiger has not had that much fun the last 10-years, and I would hate to go through what he’s has been through as he’s been through a lot, but he’s a hard worker, he’s a tough competitor and he’s still driven, so that’s why I would never count him out,” said the 79-year-old Nicklaus.

“Nobody ever said ‘how’s your record, Jack?’ as I’ve always said that if Tiger comes back and plays then I’ve said he’s still got a shot at breaking my record.

“Whether he does or he doesn’t, and even with now 10-years passing it doesn’t make any difference he’s still a great athlete and a great golfer.”

But while Woods has not tasted success since 2013 in capturing a remarkable eighth WGC – Bridgestone Invitational title, Nicklaus does believe Woods needs to learn how to win again.

“Tiger does need to learn how to win again, absolutely”, said Nicklaus

“I recall in the ’86 Masters I hadn’t won for a couple of years and I got to the last round, and I got into the back nine after struggling on the front nine but then I made a putt on nine and I finally remembered how to play.

“So, in holing a couple of putts suddenly you remember particularly if you have been a champion at one time as you will remember and you will have that to draw on.

“That’s what I had to draw on and Tiger has that also to draw on but he’s got to through the barrier of not having done it for a while.

“When you haven’t won for a while that always happens. That’s just human nature but when you have a guy as good as Tiger is and as competitive as he is, he’ll break through that barrier and I would not be surprised to see Tiger win this week.

“He loves this golf course and he’s played well here in the past, and his rememberance of what he’s done here will come back into his head.

“That will help him play better.”

The 42-year old Woods has returned to the Nicklaus hosted Memorial for a first occasion since 2015 to tee-up in what will be his ninth event of 2018, and for a first occasion since sharing 11th place earlier this month in the Players Championship.

Woods first won the Memorial in 1999 and then successfully defended his title in both 2000 and 2001 before winning for a fourth occasion in 2009 and a fifth title in 2012.

AFP

Woods Cleared By Doctor To Resume Full Golf Activities

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods, who tantalized fans with a Twitter video of himself hitting a driver on Sunday, has been cleared by doctors to resume full golf activities, ESPN reported on Monday.

The 14-time major champion hasn’t played since February, when he withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic. He has played three times in two years thanks to a series of injuries and had a fourth back surgery in April.

At the Presidents Cup two weeks ago, Woods acknowledged that he didn’t know if he would ever return to competitive golf.

But on Sunday the 41-year-old posted a video of himself — clad in a trademark red shirt of the kind he sported on so many championship Sundays — hitting his driver.

“Making Progress” was the caption. The post followed an October 7 post that heralded “Smooth Iron Shots” and a post on August 31 that said: “Dr. gave me the ok to start pitching”.

ESPN quoted Woods’s agent, Mark Steinberg, as saying the former world number one had received a “nice report” in the wake of a medical check-up last week and had been cleared to “do as much as he needs to do”.

However, Steinberg cautioned that Woods, who was arrested in May for driving under the influence of a variety of prescription drugs, would continue to take his rehab “very, very slowly”.

AFP

Olesen, Kisner Share Lead After First Round of PGA

Thorbjorn Olesen and Kevin Kisner matched each other with long, curling birdies at the final hole to share a one-stroke lead as Jordan Spieth slipped five strokes off the pace after the first round of the PGA Championship on Thursday.

On a day when many of the favourites started well, Dane Olesen and American Kisner carded four-under 67, one better than a group including U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka on a Quail Hollow course that bared its teeth despite a mere zephyr of a breeze.

Spieth, at 24, seeking to become the youngest man to complete the career grand slam after winning the British Open last month, struggled on the newly-grassed greens and needed two late birdies to salvage a 72.

Pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy also laboured to a 72 after finding water with his tee shot at the driveable par-four 14th.

Soft fairways and rock-hard, ultra-fast greens yielded some major casualties, none more so than five-times major winner Phil Mickelson, whose 79 was his highest ever score in 95 rounds at the PGA Championship.

His 25-footer at the par-four 18th was no less impressive than the closing birdie by Kisner, whose sharply-breaking 20-footer tracked in dead centre.

Among the big names who hit the ground running, American Dustin Johnson, Japanese Hideki Matsuyama, Spaniard Jon Rahm and Australian Jason Day all carded 70.