Exhausted and sore after one of the worst days of his career, the American golf star Tiger Woods opted out of competing in the final round of the PGA Championship on Sunday, his first professional retirement from a Grand Slam tournament.
Woods, contesting his second event following his February 2021 car accident, finished his third round with a nine-over-par 79, dropping to the bottom of the pack in Southern Hills (Tulsa).
At the end of his tour, with a visible limp, the winner of 15 Grand Slam tournaments admitted that he was not sure he would finish the tournament due to the pain in his right leg, a consequence of the multiple fractures he suffered in the collision.
“Well, I’m sore. That’s a given. We’ll do some work and see how it goes,” he told reporters. Shortly after the tournament itself confirmed through Twitter that the star was leaving the competition.
“We admire Tiger’s valiant effort to compete here at Southern Hills and wish him well as he continues to recover from his injuries,” said PGA America President Jim Richerson. At 46 years old, and after a dozen back and knee operations, Tiger requires hours of physical therapy and ice baths after each round to recover, especially after the accident, when he spent several months without even being able to walk.
In his amazing return to golf in April at the Augusta Masters, the Californian managed to complete all four rounds but, going from more to less, finished in a distant 47th place. Neither in Augusta nor this week has Woods had a real chance to fight for his coveted 83rd PGA title, which would make him the biggest winner in history, and his 16th Grand Slam trophy, which would bring him closer to Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.
Tiger, with his legendary competitive spirit, always ensures that his great goal is to win again on the circuit. For this he advanced that he would only compete in very important events and in April he hinted at his presence in another Grand Slam, the British Open (July 14-17).
First retirement of a ‘Major’ as a professional
This week, Tiger Woods took a step back from his emotional comeback at the Masters but also showed signs of his determined will to be competitive.
After a disappointing first round of 74 shots (+4), Woods was able to save the cut with a second run of 69 (-1), which ended exhausted entering Friday afternoon. With only a few hours to recover, Tiger had to put on his work suit again from early on Saturday, this time to save his face.
If the star had expressed his desire for the weekend to be as hot as possible, but what was found on Saturday was a wet and slippery field that wreaked havoc on most players.
Despite the indefatigable encouragement of his fans, it didn’t take long for Tiger to receive bad signals sending his second tee shot into the water en route to the first of his seven bogeys of the day, five of them committed in a row for the first time in a ‘Major’.
The worst moment came on the sixth hole, where he sent the ball into the water again and then stuck in the tall grass of the rough until committing a devastating triple bogey. Later he chained an unprecedented five consecutive bogeys between the ninth and the thirteenth hole that sank him in the table and placed him on the verge of his worst day in a ‘Big’ tournament. Woods put on gestures of disbelief and some helpless smile, while his followers did not stop encouraging him.
On the 15th hole, he left one of the few signs of his talent by signing his only birdie with a spectacular putt of 10.9 metres. Tiger closed his course with three holes in par that left him in the group in last place in the standings with 222 strokes (+12), 21 away from the Chilean Mito Pereira, surprising leader. “I just didn’t play well,” Woods acknowledged.
“I didn’t hit the ball very well and I didn’t get the start that I needed.” Tiger ended up posting his worst PGA Championship round finish but fell short of his worst Grand Slam round, which is still 81 (+10) from the 2002 British Open.
His abandonment is the first that he stars as a professional in a Grand Slam. In 1995 he retired as an amateur in his US Open debut with a wrist problem.
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