Tiger Woods’ ‘aura’ has dimmed, says Presidents Cup rival Ernie Els

Tiger Woods is captaining and playing for the United States at the biennial matchplay showdown at Royal Melbourne. (AP)
Updated 04 December 2019

Tiger Woods’ ‘aura’ has dimmed, says Presidents Cup rival Ernie Els

  • Tiger Woods is captaining and playing for the United States at the biennial matchplay showdown at Royal Melbourne
  • One of Ernie Els’ key decisions will be who plays the 15-time major-winner in the singles on Sunday

SYDNEY: Ernie Els on Wednesday said Tiger Woods has lost some of his aura but the skipper of the International team will not be under-estimating his superstar counterpart at the Presidents Cup next week.
Woods is captaining and playing for the United States at the biennial matchplay showdown at Royal Melbourne, and one of Els’ key decisions will be who plays the 15-time major-winner in the singles on Sunday.
The big South African has seven rookies in his 12-man team, but he also has a core of experienced players such as Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman.
Els said he would decide who faces Woods after seeing how they perform in the three days of fourballs and foursomes, but suggested it would not be a newcomer.
“I don’t want to have a guy feel overwhelmed,” he said in Sydney ahead of the Australian Open, where Els will play from Thursday alongside a handful of his Presidents Cup team.
“I will not put a guy in there that’s going to feel that way. I’ll see who is going to feel like he’s really got the best chance against Tiger.
“I don’t think today he has the same kind of aura he had in the past. It’s different,” added Els, himself a matchplay specialist but will only be captain in Melbourne.
“It’s more of a celebrity kind of aura. But he’s still very competitive. He’s won the Masters and he won in Japan (both this year).
“When Tiger is healthy, he can play at a very high level. But he’s not what he used to be consistently. That’s just what age does. But we’ll see when we get to Melbourne.”
The United States go into the tournament as heavy favorites, boasting some of the world’s top-ranked players such as Woods, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas.
They have won all but one edition in the event’s 25-year history, with Melbourne in 1998 the exception.
Els said he had a good idea of what his pairings would be for the opening day of fourballs next Thursday, without giving anything away.
“There are a couple of pairings that are kind of natural pairings, if you can call it that, but I’m looking at it in a different way, not just a personality way.” he said. “I’m looking at how the guys can really perform together.
“I’ve spoken to the players, some of the players already. So my thing is kind of set already, my plan is kind of set in motion already.”
In addition to Scott, Oosthuizen and Leishman, Li Haotong of China, Taiwan’s CT Pan, Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, Australian newcomer Cameron Smith and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama all qualified automatically.
Adam Hadwin and Jason Day were Els’ captain’s picks alongside rookies Im Sung-jae and Joaquin Niemann, although Day has since pulled out injured and been replaced by South Korean An Byeong-hun.


Chinese badminton superstar Lin Dan retires

Updated 04 July 2020

Chinese badminton superstar Lin Dan retires

  • Lin Dan will not be competing in the next Olympics in Tokyo

BEIJING: China’s two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, arguably the greatest badminton player of all time, announced his retirement on Saturday aged 36.

It means that Lin, who won gold at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, will not compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which were pushed back to next summer because of coronavirus.

The end of Lin’s glorious career comes just over a year after the retirement of his great rival and friend, the Malaysian star Lee Chong Wei.

The duo reigned over the sport for more than a decade and have only relinquished that hold in recent years as their powers waned.

Lin, who had something of a “bad boy” reputation during his younger days and has several tattoos, ends with 666 singles wins and a glut of medals.

“My family, coaches, team-mates and fans have accompanied me through many peaks and difficult troughs,” he said in a post on China’s Twitter-like Weibo that quickly went viral.

“Every forceful jump was a desire for victory.

“I have dedicated everything to this sport I love.”

As well as the double Olympic golds, Lin was also a five-time world champion and a long-time former world number one.

Lin earned the nickname “Super Dan” at the peak of his career.

However, the left-hander’s career has tailed off in recent years as age and injuries took their toll.

He always said that he was determined to reach the Tokyo Olympics, but his ranking of 19 in the world and the postponement of the Games made that dream unlikely.

Lin had always maintained that he would try to make it a last Olympics hurrah in Tokyo in an unlikely bid for a third Olympic gold.

But he said on Saturday his body would not allow him to plow on.

“’Persevere’, I said to myself in every moment of suffering, so that my sporting career could be prolonged,” he wrote on Weibo.

“Rather than simply pursuing rankings as I did when I was younger, in these years, I have been wanting to challenge the physical limits of an ‘old’ athlete and practice the sporting spirit that I will never give up.

“(But) my physical abilities and pain no longer allow me to fight alongside my team-mates.”