The Open: Woods accepts 'window' for major outings is closing

By Sports Desk July 06, 2022

Tiger Woods is unsure how long he will be able to play elite-level golf as he prepares for his 22nd Open appearance, having missed last month's U.S. Open in order to ensure his fitness for another outing at St Andrews.

Fifteen-time major champion Woods made a sensational return at the Masters in April, defying the odds to make the cut after suffering serious leg injuries in a car crash in February 2021.

The 46-year-old has won three Open titles, the most recent of which came in 2006 when he edged out fellow American Chris DiMarco for a two-shot victory, becoming the first man since Tom Watson in 1982 and 1983 to win the tournament in consecutive years.

And Woods says missing last month's U.S. Open, won by Matt Fitzpatrick at Brookline, was a decision he took in order to protect his participation at St Andrews, where he won Open titles in both 2000 and 2005.

"The plan was to play the U.S. Open, but physically I was not able to do that," he told BBC Sport.

"There's no way physically I could have done that. I had some issues with my leg, and it would have put [The Open] in jeopardy, and so there's no reason to do that."

Woods also said he experiences "very difficult days when moving off the couch is a hell of a task, and that's just the way it is."

As the golf legend looks forward to The Open, which begins on July 14, he accepts his window to play at the majors is closing due to his injury troubles.

Asked how long he could continue at the top level, Woods said: "I don't know. I really don't.

"If you asked me last year whether I would play golf again, all of my surgeons would have said no. But here I am playing two major championships this year.

"I will always be able to play golf. Whether it's this leg, or someone else's leg, or a false leg, or different body pieces that have been fused, I'll always be able to play.

"Now if you say play at a championship level, well, that window is definitely not as long as I would like it to be."

Related items

  • Will Zalatoris wins first career PGA Tour event after thrilling three-hole playoff Will Zalatoris wins first career PGA Tour event after thrilling three-hole playoff

    Will Zalatoris held his nerve for a clutch par putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, setting up a dramatic three-hole showdown where he defeated Sepp Straka to claim his first career PGA Tour win.

    Straka came into Sunday's final round at 12 under – one stroke off leader J.J. Spaun – while Zalatoris was one shot further back at 11 under with Cameron Smith. When Spaun imploded, going on to shoot Sunday's worst round with a 78, and Smith was handed a two-stroke penalty prior to his round for an illegal drop earlier in the tournament, the field fell away and left just Straka and Zalatoris at the top.

    Zalatoris continued to shed his reputation as a poor putter, and he did so in the biggest moments, draining a must-make 10-footer on the last hole to finish his tournament at 15 under, where he and Straka were three strokes clear of the pack – and the playoff was anything but boring.

    On the first playoff hole – the 18th, which was playing as the toughest hole on the course – both players reached the green in regulation, and while neither were in true birdie range, Zalatoris had a significantly longer distance to cover. But he showed why he was ranked number one for lag putting this week and was able to tap-in from a foot to head to the second hole.

    Replaying the 18th, Zalatoris' tee shot hit the cart path, seemingly handing Straka the tournament, but then Straka put his tee shot so close to the water's edge that he opted to take the penalty instead of trying to hack one out with a foot in the water.

    Straka pulled off what would usually be a title-winning approach shot, taking an aggressive line and landing six feet from the hole, but due to the penalty stroke it allowed Zalatoris to chip back out into the fairway and bring his approach to just over 10 feet, where he would sink another incredibly gutsy putt to extend things to a third playoff hole.

    After losing two playoffs this season, Zalatoris would have felt the trophy slipping out of his hands when his tee shot on the par-three 11th hole found the rock wall on the fringe of the water. He was not in the water, but the shot was unplayable, meaning a par would give Straka the win – and then Straka landed in the water.

    The Austrian's next shot sailed over the green into the bunker, while Zalatoris' second try at his approach was perfect, giving himself another seven-footer for the win, and he made no mistakes.

    With the win, Zalatoris avoided becoming the player with the most prize money in a season without a victory, raising his season earnings to over $9million in the process with his $2.7m winner's cheque.

    American duo Lucas Glover and Brian Harman finished tied for third at 12 under, while Spain's Jon Rahm, England's Matt Fitzpatrick and Australia's Adam Scott were part of the seven-man group tied for fifth at 11 under.

    After his two-stroke penalty, Cameron Smith finished at nine under with rising star Joo-hyung 'Tom' Kim, with Viktor Hovland at eight under, and Wyndham Clark snuck into the next round of the playoffs as his seven under finish moved him up to exactly 70th in the FedEx Cup standings.

  • Almeria 1-2 Real Madrid: Alaba's stunning first touch seals opening day win for champions Almeria 1-2 Real Madrid: Alaba's stunning first touch seals opening day win for champions

    Substitute David Alaba scored a stunning free-kick with his first touch as Real Madrid started their LaLiga title defence with a 2-1 turnaround win over Almeria on Sunday.

    Carlo Ancelotti's side started poorly at the Power Horse Stadium in Andalusia, and fell behind inside the opening 10 minutes courtesy of a clinical finish from former Manchester United youth player Largie Ramazani.

    Madrid struggled to find a way past an inspired Fernando Martinez in the Almeria goal, before Lucas Vazquez, who had an effort ruled out in the first half for offside, eventually pulled Madrid level shortly after the hour mark.

    Alaba replaced Ferland Mendy in the 74th minute and with his first touch curled a sumptuous free-kick past Fernando from 25 yards to seal all three points.

    Madrid's defence was caught out in just the sixth minute when Ramazani latched onto Inigo Eguaras' superb ball over the top and fired past Thibaut Courtois from just inside the penalty area.

    At five minutes and 50 seconds, that was the quickest goal Madrid have conceded on the opening day of a league season since Sergio Aguero scored against them for Atletico Madrid in August 2007.

    Los Blancos had a whopping 17 shots before the interval, yet a combination of smart goalkeeping from Fernando and uncharacteristically wasteful finishing from Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior prevented them from finding a leveller.

    Fernando continued to frustrate Madrid after the break, denying Benzema with a fine save, but he was eventually beaten in the 61st minute when Vazquez slammed home after the Almeria goalkeeper had kept out Vinicius' effort. 

    Alaba then ensured Madrid went back to the capital with maximum points, whipping past a helpless Fernando immediately after entering the action.

    What does it mean? Madrid bounce back to deny plucky hosts

    Almeria had won just one of their 12 games against Madrid in LaLiga prior to Sunday's clash, but they looked like they might earn a famous victory thanks to Ramazani's early strike and some inspired goalkeeping from Fernando.

    Vasquez and Alaba had other ideas, though, as Los Blancos stretched their unbeaten run on the opening day of LaLiga to 14 games.

    Alaba's instant impact

    Alaba did not need to settle into the action before dispatching a glorious free-kick past Fernando with his first touch. That goal meant he is one of only two players, alongside Real Betis' Nabil Fekir, to have scored two goals from free-kicks in LaLiga since the start of last season.

    Fantastic Fernando

    Fernando can consider himself exceptionally unlucky to have finished on the losing side. The 32-year-old made an incredible 13 saves to frustrate the visitors, but there was little he could do about Madrid's two decisive strikes.

    What's next?

    Madrid are away at Celta Vigo on Saturday, while Almeria visit Elche two days later. 

  • Nadal hails Williams as 'one of the greatest of all-time' Nadal hails Williams as 'one of the greatest of all-time'

    Serena Williams is "one of the greatest of all time", says fellow tennis legend Rafael Nadal as the 23-time grand slam winner prepares to hang up her racquet.

    The 40-year-old, one of the most decorated players in the history of the sport, signalled her intent to "evolve away" from the game in an interview with Vogue Magazine earlier this month, hinting at her retirement following the U.S. Open in September.

    With just shy of two-dozen grand slam singles titles, Williams trails only Margaret Court for the all-time record of 24 crowns, and could equal her in her farewell appearance.

    Nadal, meanwhile, lies one behind her after victory in the Australian Open and French Open this year took him clear of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to 22, though the former's win at Wimbledon has seen him close the gap again.

    The duo are set to feature at this week's Western and Southern Open, where Williams will face incumbent U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu, and the Spaniard - who will mark his return from injury - has nothing but praise for his fellow giant of the game.

    "She is one of the greatest sports [people] of all time," he stated. "I feel lucky to share a tour for a long period of time with her.

    "Of course, from a selfish point of view, it's sad that she's leaving the tour but, on the other hand, we can't thank her enough for all the things that she did for our sport.

    "I think she's an amazing inspiration for a lot of people around the world and I think she deserves to choose whatever works for her better at this stage of her life.

    "So I wish her all the best. Hopefully, we can keep seeing her around the tour because I always believe that our sport, or the sport in general, is bigger and better when legends are around and she is a legend.

    "Hopefully, we can enjoy her in a different way around the tour."

    Nadal was forced to withdraw ahead of the Wimbledon semi-finals earlier this year with an abdominal tear, and now faces a potentially nervy run through to the U.S. Open in terms of fitness.

    But the 36-year-old is cautiously optimistic, adding: "I hope to be ready. That's what I'm trying to do. Try to be a little more conservative, but I hope I can be ready to play.

    "Of course, I need some more days to analyse how things are going in terms of abdominal feeling.

    "But things are going well for the moment, so hopefully I can manage to be ready. I'm excited. I want to play tennis again on the tour. I'm having a good season, I'm enjoying it, so I want to enjoy this week in Cincinnati."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.