Tiger’s Tale: Woods shoots career-worst 78 at the Masters

Tiger Woods hits out of a bunker on the second hole during the third round of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National on Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Augusta, Ga. (AP)
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Updated 10 April 2022

Tiger’s Tale: Woods shoots career-worst 78 at the Masters

  • The magic the five-time Masters champion summoned so easily for so long was nowhere to be found during another labored four-plus hour journey underneath the Georgia pines on Saturday

AUGUSTA, Georgia: Tiger Woods used to turn weekends at Augusta National into gripping theater, relentlessly charging up the leaderboard one fearless drive, one feathery iron, one nervy putt at a time.
Not now. Maybe not ever again.
The magic the five-time Masters champion summoned so easily for so long was nowhere to be found during another labored four-plus hour journey underneath the Georgia pines on Saturday. His 6-over 78 marked his worst in 93 career rounds at the tournament he has come to define and left him at 7-over.
The limp from his surgically repaired right leg growing more pronounced with each deliberate, cautious step, the 46-year-old slipped further down the leaderboard to end whatever chance — however unlikely — of being a factor come late Sunday afternoon.
There was no familiar charge in the early April chill. Just the reality that 14 months removed from a serious car accident that threatened to end his career, Woods can still play golf. He just can’t do it — at least not at the moment — at the level needed to compete in a field consisting of younger players, many who grew up idolizing him but have long outgrown standing in awe of him.
Following a gritty back-nine push on Friday that helped him stay on the fringe of contention, Woods walked to the first tee Saturday two hours before the leaders. Looking to send a jolt through the gallery that stood five-deep in places hoping for a glimpse and a chance to roar, Woods instead spent most of the afternoon silently glaring at the hole or his putter — or both.
He three-putted the par-4 first from 54 feet for a bogey, a sign of things to come. On the par-4 fifth, he slung his club in disgust after his approach drifted to the right, far away from a back left hole location. His lag attempt from 60-feet over a ridge was well short. His 9-foot par putt rolled his 3-feet by and his comebacker for bogey hit the hole and bounced out. It was Woods’ first four-putt at the Masters — ever.
Things never really got better. Three more three-putts followed on an afternoon where nothing really felt right. And it wasn’t just his leg. It was his back. His hands. His posture. Everything.
Even worse, there seemed to be no way to compensate. He tinkered, the kind of searching usually reserved for the practice range, not in the middle of a major.
“As many putts as I had, you’d think I’d have figured it out somewhere along the line, but it just didn’t happen,” he said.
While Woods was slowly making his way up the 18th fairway, leader Scottie Scheffler — just 25 and the world’s top-ranked golfer — was making the turn doing at the Masters what Woods has done so often over the last quarter-century: imposing his will on the course and the tournament.
“We all wish we had that two, three-month window when we get hot, and hopefully majors fall somewhere along in that window,” Woods said. “We take care of it in those windows. Scottie seems to be in that window right now.”
A window that is currently closed for Woods. While it would be easy to call his mere presence in northeast Georgia this weekend a victory in itself considering last fall he wondered if he’d ever play competitively again, Woods isn’t in this to be a feel-good story. He has no interest in being a ceremonial field filler.
His steely 1-under 71 during the first round on Thursday only seemed to embolden him. Following a shaky front-nine 39 on Friday, he recovered to shoot 74 and easily get in under the cutline.
He opened with another sloppy 39 on the front Saturday. And for a few fleeting minutes shortly after he made the turn, it appeared another rally was in store.
A crisp iron to 14 feet on No. 12 and a two-putt birdie at the par-5 13th provided a spark that never became a flame. He bogeyed the 16th and 17th and his approach up the hill to the 18th sailed into the gallery. His bump-and-run caught the slope and kept rolling, with Woods gingerly chasing after it long before it came to a stop nearly 60 feet away from the pin.
Three more putts and his worst round at Augusta was finally over. His 78 was one more than the 77 he put together in the third round of his first trip to Augusta in 1995.
He was an amateur back then, a 19-year-old phenom. Two years later, he was a champion. Two-plus decades later, he is a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest in the history of his sport. He’s also a middle-aged father of two trying to recapture something far more elusive than it used to be.
“Each and every day is a challenge,” he said. “Each and every day presents its own different challenges for all of us. I wake up and start the fight all over again.”


France’s Kamara to miss World Cup due to knee injury

Updated 5 sec ago

France’s Kamara to miss World Cup due to knee injury

BIRMINGHAM, England: France midfielder Boubacar Kamara has been ruled out of the World Cup after sustaining knee ligament damage.
Kamara was injured while playing for Aston Villa in a 1-0 win against Southampton this month.
The 22-year-old Kamara was picked in France’s Nations League games this month but had to withdraw.
Villa manager Steven Gerrard confirmed the extent of Kamara’s injury on Friday ahead of an English Premier League game against Leeds on Sunday.
“Bouba will be missing until after the World Cup unfortunately, so that’s a huge blow,” Gerrard said.
Kamara joined Villa from Marseille on a free transfer in July and has started every game.
He forced his way into Didier Deschamps’ plans to successfully defend the World Cup.

IOC’s Bach eyes return to sports for anti-war Russians

Updated 38 min 42 sec ago

IOC’s Bach eyes return to sports for anti-war Russians

  • “It’s about having athletes with a Russian passport who do not support the war back in competition,” said Bach
  • Most sports followed International Olympic Committee advice in February and banned Russian team and athletes from their events

GENEVA: Russian athletes who do not endorse their country’s war in Ukraine could be accepted back into international sports, IOC president Thomas Bach said in an interview published Friday.
“It’s about having athletes with a Russian passport who do not support the war back in competition,” Bach told Italian daily Corriere della Sera, adding, “We have to think about the future.”
Most sports followed International Olympic Committee advice in February and banned Russian team and athletes from their events within days of the country’s military invasion of Ukraine.
With Russians starting to miss events that feed into qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics, an exile extending into next year could effectively become a wider ban from those Games.
In an interview in Rome, Bach hinted at IOC thinking after recent rounds of calls with Olympic stakeholders asked for views on Russia’s pathway back from pariah status.
“To be clear, it is not about necessarily having Russia back,” he said. “On the other hand — and here comes our dilemma — this war has not been started by the Russian athletes.”
Bach did not suggest how athletes could express opposition to the war when dissent and criticism of the Russian military risks jail sentences of several years.
Some Russian athletes publicly supported the war in March and are serving bans imposed by their sport’s governing body.
Olympic gold medalist swimmer Evgeny Rylov appeared at a pro-war rally attended by Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Gymnast Ivan Kuliak displayed a pro-military “Z” symbol on his uniform at an international event.
Russian former international athletes are being called up for military service in the current mobilization, according to media reports. They include former heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuev and soccer player Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.
Russians have continued to compete during the war as individuals in tennis and cycling, without national symbols such as flags and anthems, even when teams have been banned.
In athletics, Russians have competed since 2015 only as neutrals approved by the sport’s governing body because of the state-backed doping scandal which tainted the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Bach and the IOC faced criticism in fallout from the scandal for not being strict enough with Russian athletes who competed at each Olympics since 2016 with extra vetting of their drug testing or as neutrals without their national team name, flag and anthem.
Bach told Corriere della Sera it was the IOC’s mission to be politically neutral and “to have the Olympic Games, and to have sport in general, as something that still unifies people and humanity.”
“For all these reasons, we are in a real dilemma at this moment with regard to the Russian invasion in Ukraine,” he suggested.
“We also have to see, and to study, to monitor, how and when we can come back to accomplish our mission to have everybody back again, under which format whatsoever.”
Bach was in Rome also for a sports forum hosted by the Vatican, where Pope Francis praised sports as “an educational and social good and it must remain so.”
“We should be committed to giving everyone the opportunity to play sports,” the pope said, “to cultivate — one could say to be ‘trained’ in — the values of sport and transform them into virtues.”
Vatican officials previously have said they would like to one day field a team recognized by the IOC in the Olympics.


Ten Hag committed to helping Maguire return to finest form

Updated 30 September 2022

Ten Hag committed to helping Maguire return to finest form

  • England international Maguire has been dropped at club level and is fighting for his place at the World Cup
  • Ten Hag is adamant protections are in place for all players and committed himself to returning Maguire to his finest form

MANCHESTER, England: Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has revealed measures are in place to protect players’ mental health at a time when club captain Harry Maguire has been the subject of intense criticism.
England international Maguire has been dropped at club level and is fighting for his place at the World Cup following an alarming dip in form.
It has seen him suffer growing abuse on social media and raised questions about his future at United.
But Ten Hag is adamant protections are in place for all players and committed himself to returning Maguire to his finest form.
Addressing concerns over the 29-year-old defender’s mental health, the United manager said: “But it’s an aspect of top football. It’s an aspect of our work. We set conditions for that, to manage it.
“We also have experts around to help, to coach the players, the team in the right direction.
“I think he is doing quite well, but every player has room for improvement and if he believes in his skills he will quickly be back on the level and even more than he did. I am convinced of that because I see his capabilities and it’s really high.”
Maguire has endured a miserable start to the season – losing his place to Raphael Varane at United, before making high-profile mistakes in England’s 3-3 draw with Germany on Monday.
It prompted the center back to publicly apologize on Instagram, adding: “The tough times will make us stronger.”
Fellow defender Luke Shaw aired his own concerns for his club and international teammate.
“He’s taken a lot of stick — probably more than I’ve ever seen before in football,” Shaw told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Everybody knows he’s an unbelievable player. At the moment the confidence might not be there because it could feel like the whole world is against him.”
United legend Rio Ferdinand tweeted: “Feel for Harry . . . every mistake being punished and scrutinized — comes with the territory though.
“Needs to be strong mentally to get through this!”
Maguire is out of Sunday’s derby against Manchester City with a thigh injury – but is unlikely to have started even if fit after being dropped following the 4-0 defeat to Brentford last month.
Ten Hag had initially shown faith in him when retaining him as captain after taking over the club at the end of last season.
And he insists he still has belief in the player.
“First of all, of course I have to coach him,” he said. “I have to back him. But I back him because I believe in him.
“In the period I worked with him in pre-season was good. Really good, training and games. So then he fell out — but it’s also to do with the good performance of the center backs who are playing now. But I can see even after he wasn’t in the team he trained really well, but more important, the quality was there.
“You see his career, almost 50 caps for England. For Leicester and Man United he’s performing really well. What you see is he has a high potential. Then it is about him.
“The players in the dressing room, the coaches, the manager, we all believe in him. Now it is about him. That’s what I told him. I’m sure he can do it. He will turn around this. I am really convinced of that.”


Everton fined for field invasions last season

Updated 30 September 2022

Everton fined for field invasions last season

  • The club were fined $334,000 for on-field invasions during and after a 3-2 win against Crystal Palace on May 19
  • The dramatic victory secured top-flight safety for Frank Lampard’s team

LIVERPOOL, England: Everton are counting the cost of the jubilant but raucous scenes sparked after they avoided relegation from the English Premier League last season.
The club were fined 300,000 pounds ($334,000) for on-field invasions during and after a 3-2 win against Crystal Palace on May 19.
The dramatic victory secured top-flight safety for Frank Lampard’s team – and prompted wild celebrations at their Goodison Park home.
Fans ran onto the field when Dominic Calvert-Lewin struck a late winner. Everton had been trailing 2-0 at halftime and was closer to relegation from the league for the first time in their history.
Supporters ran on again after the final whistle, with one involved in an ugly altercation with Palace manager Patrick Vieira.
Everton were charged with misconduct in July, and on Friday the English Football Association confirmed sanctions imposed by an independent regulatory commission.
“Everton FC admitted failing to ensure that their spectators – and all persons purporting to be their supporters or followers – conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and refrained from using threatening and violent behavior whilst encroaching onto the pitch area,” the FA said in a statement.


Portuguese coach suspended after harassment accusations

Updated 30 September 2022

Portuguese coach suspended after harassment accusations

  • Famalicão said they were suspending coach Miguel Afonso “until the truth of the facts is ascertained”
  • Público said that it had contacted Afonso but he declined to comment on the accusations

LISBON, Portugal: Portuguese soccer club Famalicão suspended the coach of its women’s team on Friday after a leading newspaper in Portugal published accusations of verbal sexual harassment by him of his players at a previous club.
Famalicão said that “in view” of the report published by Público newspaper that they were suspending coach Miguel Afonso “until the truth of the facts is ascertained.”
The club said they were putting themself at the “total disposition of all parties involved and the competent authorities to assist in obtaining the truth.”
The alleged verbal harassment of players, some of which were 19 years old at the time, reportedly took place while Afonso coached fellow Portuguese club Rio Ave during the 2020-21 season.
Público said that it had contacted Afonso but he declined to comment on the accusations.
In a statement, Rio Ave acknowledged that they had been “aware of some circumstantial comments reported by athletes regarding alleged inappropriate approaches by the coach.”
But, Rio Ave said they took no action because “the coach denied such situations and, at the request of the athletes, the matter was not followed up.”
Famalicão, in a separate statement preceding the suspension of Afonso, said that when they hired Afonso they were not aware of the accusations.