In­jured Tiger to re­main hid­den in­def­i­nitely

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

TIGER Woods rocked the golf world Mon­day after abruptly can­celling his long-awaited come­back, rais­ing fresh ques­tions about his abil­ity to re­turn to the high­est lev­els of the sport he once ruled.

Just three days after the PGA Tour is­sued a state­ment trum­pet­ing the for­mer world num­ber one’s par­tic­i­pa­tion at the Safe­way Open in Cal­i­for­nia this week, Woods an­nounced he was not ready to re­turn from his 14-month in­jury lay­off.

The 14-time ma­jor win­ner, 40, who has been out of ac­tion since un­der­go­ing surgery late last year to cure a long-stand­ing back in­jury, said con­cerns over form – rather than fit­ness – were be­hind the de­ci­sion to de­lay his come­back.

“After a lot of soul-searching and hon­est re­flec­tion, I know that I am not yet ready to play on the PGA Tour or com­pete in Turkey,” said Woods, who was also due to take part in next month’s Turk­ish Air­lines Open in An­talya.

“My health is good, and I feel strong, but my game is vul­ner­a­ble and not where it needs to be,” added Woods, who how­ever said he hoped to play in De­cem­ber’s Hero World Chal­lenge in the Ba­hamas.

Woods was one of the US Ry­der Cup as­sis­tant cap­tains as the hosts won back the tro­phy off Europe just over a week ago at Hazel­tine.

Woods said while that ex­pe­ri­ence whet­ted his ap­petite to re­turn to play­ing, he re­alised he was not ready to com­pete against the world’s best.

“When I an­nounced last week I was go­ing to Safe­way, I had ev­ery in­ten­tion of play­ing, or I wouldn’t have com­mit­ted,” added Woods, whose last ma­jor vic­tory came in 2008 and who has not won a US PGA event for three years.

“I spent a week with the US Ry­der Cup Team, an hon­our and ex­pe­ri­ence that in­spired me even more to play. I prac­tised the last sev­eral days in Cal­i­for­nia, but after a lot of hours, I knew I wasn’t ready to com­pete against the best golfers in the world.”

Woods’ sud­den with­drawal is a body blow for the Safe­way Open, which had re­port­edly sold around 28,000 tick­ets since the golfer first an­nounced he planned to make his come­back at the event.

“I would like to apol­o­gise and send my re­grets to Safe­way, the Turk­ish Air­lines Open, the fans in Cal­i­for­nia and Turkey, and those that had hoped to watch me com­pete on TV,” Woods said.

“This isn’t what I wanted to hap­pen, but I will con­tinue to strive to be able to play tour­na­ment golf. I’m close and I won’t stop un­til I get there.”

Tour­na­ment host Johnny Miller ex­pressed sym­pa­thy for Woods’ de­ci­sion, while ac­knowl­edg­ing it would af­fect this week’s event.

“Ob­vi­ously it’s a huge im­pact on our tour­na­ment,” Miller told the Golf Chan­nel.

“Ob­vi­ously I wish Tiger the best. Ev­ery­body was so ex­cited in the golf world. It’s hard to break that news. It re­ally is.

“It’s hard be­ing Tiger Woods, es­pe­cially if you can’t back it up with a sem­blance of the old Tiger Woods,” Miller added.

“Ev­ery­body ex­pects him to come back and play like the year 2000 Tiger Woods and that’s just not go­ing to hap­pen. He’s got to break the ice some­time. I hope he picks the right spot.”

Woods’ long-time agent Mark Stein­berg strongly hinted the player would only make his re­turn on US soil as part of the PGA Tour.

“I don’t think it’s ap­pro­pri­ate and Tiger doesn’t think it’s ap­pro­pri­ate for him to have his first tour­na­ment back not be part of the PGA Tour,” Stein­berg said.

“That de­ci­sion has noth­ing to do with health or pro­ject­ing where his golf game is go­ing to be in three weeks. It’s out of re­spect to the PGA Tour.

“It didn’t feel right, so we de­cided we should just wait and look at the Hero World Chal­lenge to be his re­turn date.” – A SEAR­ING first-half strike from Paul Pogba handed France a 1-0 win at ri­vals the Nether­lands as Bel­gium and Por­tu­gal clocked up 6-0 vic­to­ries and Chris­tian Ben­teke grabbed a slice of World Cup qual­i­fy­ing his­tory.

Crit­i­cised by coach Didier Deschamps for his per­for­mance in their Oc­to­ber 7 4-1 win over Bul­garia in Paris, the world’s most ex­pen­sive foot­baller em­phat­i­cally replied with a tow­er­ing dis­play for Les Bleus in Amsterdam in the most eye-catch­ing fix­ture on Oc­to­ber 10.

The Man­ches­ter United mid­fielder’s pow­er­ful hit from 25 me­tres out after half an hour left div­ing Dutch goal­keeper Maarten Steke­len­burg able to get his hands to the fizzing ball but un­able to stop it.

“I didn’t speak to him [Pogba], I just said a few words to him be­fore en­ter­ing the chang­ing rooms: ‘I have con­fi­dence in you,’” said Deschamps.

“The match con­firms what he is able to do. Pogba was much bet­ter in ev­ery­thing he did. He showed what he can do.

“We never doubted he could do it. We mustn’t for­get Paul is rel­a­tively young and he can still progress.”

France, los­ing fi­nal­ists on home soil at Euro 2016, are equal on seven points at the top of Group A with Swe­den, who beat Bul­garia 3-0 at home in Solna. The two coun­tries will play on Novem­ber 11 at the Stade de France.

Pogba, 23, was im­pe­rial in front of a cen­tral de­fence made up of Raphael Varane and Lau­rent Ko­scielny, who pushed back wave after wave of Dutch at­tacks.

And Pogba nearly dou­bled his ac­count with a header off a Dimitri Payet cor­ner on 66 min­utes just lack­ing power.

“If the team has a good match, I have a good match,” said a de­fi­ant Pogba. “If it’s a bad match, I have a bad match.

“We’re not go­ing to talk about in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances. It’s true it’s not al­ways nice to hear crit­i­cism, ‘bad things’ about my­self. There wasn’t any an­swer. To­day it was a good team ef­fort.”

The French had a slight scare in the fi­nal minute but Hugo Lloris did well to keep out a Mem­phis De­pay ef­fort on the line.

“It’s an im­por­tant win for us, even if we could have had a larger lead,” said Deschamps.

“We could have hurt them more in the first half. It’s good to have got these two vic­to­ries.”

The Dutch failed to make it to the Eu­ros and now sit third in the group, need­ing to im­prove fast if they are to make it to Rus­sia in 2018.

“Our goal­keeper made a mis­take which he never makes in training,” said coach Danny Blind.

“We played bet­ter in the sec­ond half and we should have had at least a point be­cause we had chances at the end of the match.”

Bel­gium and Por­tu­gal went on goal sprees against min­nows Gi­bral­tar and the Faroe Is­lands.

Bel­gium striker Ben­teke set a new World Cup record for the fastest goal ever – just seven sec­onds – on his way to a hat-trick in Faro.

Bel­gium top Group H on nine points out of nine, ahead of Greece on goal dif­fer­ence.

The 25-year-old Crys­tal Palace for­ward picked up the ball in the first ac­tion in Faro and rac­ing to­wards goal with the Gi­bral­tar de­fence in dis­ar­ray left goalie Deren Ibrahim with no chance.

Ben­teke’s quick-fire goal eclipsed the pre­vi­ous best of 8.3 sec­onds achieved by San Marino’s Da­vide Gualtieri in a World Cup qual­i­fier against Eng­land in Novem­ber 1993.

Por­tu­gal, bid­ding to catch Group B lead­ers Switzer­land, matched their 6-0 win over An­dorra on Oc­to­ber 7.

An­dre Silva scored a hat-trick for the Euro­pean cham­pi­ons be­fore cap­tain Cris­tiano Ron­aldo net­ted his fifth goal in four days, with Joao Cancelo and Joao Moutinho also scor­ing late on.

Switzer­land main­tained their un­beaten run, com­ing away 2-1 win­ners from An­dorra with Fabian Schaer and Ad­mir Mehmedi scor­ing in ei­ther half.

Photo: AFP

Tiger Woods has de­layed his re­turn once again, drag­ging out a 14-month in­jury lay­off from the sport he once ruled.

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