x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Tiger Woods' body failing him in quest to reach Nicklaus record

Injuries may be the final straw that stops Tiger Woods from catching Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 Major wins.

Controversy in his personal life and changing his swing aside, injuries have taken their toll on Tiger Woods. Since the 2010 US Masters, Woods has not won a tournament in 21 stroke-play events.
Controversy in his personal life and changing his swing aside, injuries have taken their toll on Tiger Woods. Since the 2010 US Masters, Woods has not won a tournament in 21 stroke-play events.

On the range at the 1996 British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes, Bob Torrance, one of golf's all-time great swing coaches, heard a strange noise.

He turned to see the young American kid everyone was talking about, firing golf balls farther than some people go on holiday, his club almost breaking the sound barrier in the process.

The sound made by Tiger Woods, then an amateur and just out of his teens, stunned the veteran Scot. But it was the way Woods put everything into his swing that inspired one of Torrance's many memorable lines.

"That kid will be in a wheelchair by the time he is 45," said Torrance, who couldn't believe the incredible pressure being put on his athletic physique.

Woods is 10 years short of his 45th birthday. He is not in a wheelchair but his body does seem to be breaking down at an age when most golfers reach their prime.

The former world No 1 said all the right things when he claimed the injury to his left leg, which made him pull out of The Players Championship after nine holes, wasn't serious, and that he was aiming to play the US Open in June.

But the next few months, with the US Open and then the British Open in July, may well tell us whether he will ever get back to his best.

If things do not improve this summer for golf's once-dominant figure, Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 major title wins looks secure.

This week, Nicklaus said he had found watching Woods over recent times difficult because "as talented as Tiger is, and as good a player as he is, for him to not be able to play not only takes away from him but takes away from the game. He has a pretty significant injury, obviously, that is bothering him.

"But I always feel like when you're injured and have the talent he has, you'll figure out a way to play and he'll figure out a way to get it back. He's got a lot more golf in him. I promise you, he's not done."

Nicklaus was written off himself at times.

He won the US Masters and PGA Championship in 1975 at age 35. At 45, he famously won the Masters, his last major victory.

However, he never suffered any real injuries throughout his long career.

For Woods right now, finishing 18 holes would be a success. He was driven away from the Players last Thursday in a car that had been parked in a disabled space.

How appropriate.

This week in golf

European Tour

Darren Clarke doesn’t want his next Ryder Cup appearance to be as vice captain to Jose Maria Olazabal, as the Northern Irishman has his sights set on one last starring role. Clarke, below, won his first tournament in almost three years last week at the Iberdrola Open to move to 88th in the world rankings. He wants to get back into the top 50, which would stake a claim to qualify for the Ryder Cup.

PGA Tour

KJ Choi beat David Toms in a play-off to win The Players Championship at Sawgrass. Toms had spent all four days near the top of the leaderboard, but three-putted the first extra hole, a par three, and Choi got down in par.

World rankings
1. Lee Westwood, England
2. Luke Donald, England
3. Martin Kaymer, Germany
4. Phil Mickelson, US
5. Graeme McDowell, N Ireland

Race To Dubai rankings
Name Nat Prize Money
1 Schwartzel RSA €1,587,333
2 Donald ENG €1,453,725
3 Kaymer GER €1,086,206
4 Hansen DEN €799,531
5 Jiménez ESP €717,356


Volvo World Match Play Championships
Where: Andalucia, Spain When: Today-Sunday
Prize money: €3.4 million (Dh18m)
Defending champion: Ross Fisher

Crowne Plaza Invitational
Where: Fort Worth, Texas
When: Today-Sunday
Prize money: US$6.2 million (Dh23m)
Defending champion: Zach Johnson

ncameron@thenational.ae