Tiger in denial after new lows
LONDON — Liverpool’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League all but ended on Sunday after a 1-1 draw at Premier League title winners Chelsea epitomised a season of shortcomings.
Liverpool went behind after five minutes at Stamford Bridge when John Terry headed Chelsea in front but Steven Gerrard grabbed an equaliser when he nodded home just before halftime.
Brendan Rodgers’ men huffed and puffed in search of a winner to close the gap on fourth-placed Manchester United, who won 2-1 at Crystal Palace on Saturday, but had to settle for a point.
With two games remaining, Liverpool have 62 points from 36 matches, six behind Louis van Gaal’s United who also boast a better goal difference (+25 to +11).
“I think we got off to an awful start. A disappointing goal from our perspective,” Rodgers told Sky Sports.
“We got ourselves back into the game, a good header from Stevie, and I thought in the second half we were outstanding, we just lacked that bit of quality in the final third. It’s happened too much this season. We’ve started games poorly and we’ve been punished for it.”
Liverpool scored 101 Premier League goals last term, with Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez netting 52 between them to help the Merseysiders finish runners-up to Manchester City.
However, Rodgers could not find a suitable replacement for Suarez following his move to Barcelona, while Sturridge has missed large parts of the season with persistent injuries.
Fellow forwards Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini have all been below par at Anfield as Liverpool failed to build on last season’s success.
Captain and talisman Gerrard will join LA Galaxy at the end of the season and the 34-year-old former England skipper said the club must bolster their ranks with new signings. — Reuters
Sport24 FLORIDA — A remarkably upbeat Tiger Woods predicted a return to winning ways this summer, which was quite something after rounding off his week at the Players Championship on Sunday with a triple whammy of career lows.
A day after recording two double bogeys on par fives in the same round for the first time in 18 years as a pro, the 39-year-old racked up his first-ever triple bogey. It came at the par-four 14th on his 1 058th hole at the Players.
It was his fifth double bogey or worse during the tournament, which equalled another career worst on the PGA Tour. He signed for a 72 for tied 69th place — his worst finish in 16 appearances in the Tour’s flagship event.
What, then, could possibly have justified the following verdict: “I played some really good stuff out there and it’s going to pay dividends in the end. Can I see myself contending and winning sometime this year? Absolutely.”
One reason for the optimism was he finished a gruelling 72 holes feeling strong and healthy. Allied with his top-20 showing at the Masters, it was the first time in 18 months that he had completed 72 holes in consecutive tournaments.
“Physically, I feel good and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that,” he said. “For a long time, I couldn’t practise after a round because my back was so bad but I’m able to do that now, which is huge when you’re trying to bed down some swing changes. I’m making progress. I felt a lot more comfortable over the ball here than I did at Augusta.”
Woods managed 18 birdies during the week and when you think that third-round leader Chris Kirk had achieved his position on the back of 14 birdies over 54 holes, it demonstrated that there is nothing wrong with Tiger’s good golf. “Three sevens during the week is obviously not good but I do think the mistakes will get cleaned up over time,” he insisted.
“This is one of those courses that exposes any weaknesses. You can be going along fine and then all of a sudden you make a double and it’s like, what’s just happened?”
This coming weekend, Woods will be overseeing his annual music festival known as the Tiger Jam — Ed Sheeran is the star turn — before turning his attention to next month’s US Open, which is being staged on a new course known as Chambers Bay near Seattle.
“I’ll definitely get out there ahead of time to have a look at it,” he said. “From what I hear, it’s a course you need to take a look at a few times before the week.”
As for the other end of the Players’ leaderboard, with 30 golfers separated by just five shots at the start of the last round, the requirement was clearly for someone to sprinkle a round with birdies and emerge from the peloton. A poor front nine of 38 strokes meant it wouldn’t be Ian Poulter, while world No 1 Rory Mcilroy failed to break the par of 36 for the outward half for the fourth day in a row.
Things began to happen as he turned for home once more, however, with birdies at the 11th and 12th lifting him to eight under par and into the top 10. A wonderful shot to the 13th left him with a seven-footer for a third straight birdie but the putt refused to drop.
The pace was being set by Sergio Garcia, who was so disgruntled with his putting on Friday that he deposited his putter into a garbage bin before discovering a replacement that was proving anything but rubbish. The Spaniard birdied four out of five holes from the second to move to 11 under.
Welshman Jamie Donaldson rounded off a four-month stint in America with arguably his best round during the stretch, a fine 67 that moved him to eight under and into the top 10. — Daily Mail