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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

Injured Tiger’s ‘Holy Grail’ of majors looks more distant

Posted: 12 May 2011 08:16 PM PDT

Woods reacts after hitting his second shot on the ninth hole during first-round play of the Players Championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida on May 12, 2011. He withdrew through injury after slipping to six-over par after the opening nine holes. — Reuters pic

LOS ANGELES, May 13 — Tiger Woods has long targeted the record 18 majors won by his fellow American Jack Nicklaus but that goal became more elusive yesterday when he withdrew from the Players Championship because of injury.

It has been almost three years since Woods clinched the last of his 14 major titles and the prospect of adding any more in the near future dimmed as he dejectedly limped off after nine holes at the TPC Sawgrass.

Ever since his private life unravelled in sensational fashion at the end of 2009 and he tried to repair his crumbling marriage, Woods has struggled for form on the course.

Known for his extraordinary work ethic, he has been unable to practise as much as he would like because of family commitments and he has also been toiling with the fourth swing change of his professional career.

Aged only 35, Woods has already had four surgeries on his troublesome left knee and his latest injury setback comes at an inconvenient time with the second major of the year, the US Open, fast approaching.

Woods is a three-times winner of his national open and had initially planned to compete in last week's Quail Hollow Championship, the Players and then the June 2-5 Memorial tournament to complete his US Open build-up.

However, he was forced to pull out of Quail Hollow because of mild strains to his left knee and left Achilles' tendon and those same injuries led to his withdrawal from the Players yesterday.

Woods is rapidly running out of time in his preparations for the June 16-19 US Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.

"A medial collateral ligament sprain one would expect to heal typically within two to four weeks," sports medicine surgeon Dr. Robert Frederick told Reuters yesterday.

"More significant is what is going on in his knee and with the Achilles' tendon. Rest may heal the injuries but rest also keeps him from the course and the practice tee which allows him to prepare for such events.

"The chances of him getting back within the next couple of weeks to aggressively pursue practice rounds are probably not very promising."

Frederick, a doctor at the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia who is an assistant team physician for the Philadelphia Phillies and Philadelphia Flyers, was most concerned about Woods' knee.

"That left knee has had multiple surgeries and over time the arthritic changes become more of an issue," he said. "If arthritis is too severe, activity modifications, including diminishing time on the golf course, may have to be included."

Comfortably the best player of his generation and arguably of all time, Woods has slipped to eighth in the world rankings and has not won a tournament since the 2009 Australian Masters.

He has lost the aura of dominance he enjoyed while piling up his own tally of 14 majors and he can no longer count on being injury-free in his late thirties as he continues his bid to close in on his "Holy Grail", the Nicklaus mark.

However, Woods remains fully focused on achieving that aim.

"When I first started this (professional golf) at 20 years old, I certainly didn't think I would be at 14 (majors) by now," the American told Reuters earlier this year. "I am very happy to be where I am at but certainly I want a lot more.

"It took Jack a very long time, 20-plus years, to get to this point. Hopefully I can do that (surpass 18 majors)."

Perhaps the one burning question is for how much longer Woods is prepared to struggle out on the course where once he reigned supreme.

He has repeatedly said he would quit the game whenever he felt he was unable to compete at the highest level.

"For me it is very simple, it (the time to quit) is when my best isn't good enough any more," Woods told Reuters shortly before he won his most recent major at the 2008 US Open.

"I could not live with myself going out and practising and preparing as hard as I do and knowing that if I go out and play my best someone is just going to beat me.

"I am trying to prolong it, that early exit. One of the great things about our sport is you can play as long as you want. But do you want to play in mediocrity? That is the thing that I would have a hard time with." — Reuters

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Man charged over attack on Celtic manager Lennon

Posted: 12 May 2011 06:12 PM PDT

Lennon walks into the stadium before the Scottish Premier League 'Old Firm' match against Rangers at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland on April 24, 2011. — Reuters pic

LONDON, May 13 — A man suspected of attacking Celtic manager Neil Lennon during his team's match against Hearts appeared in court yesterday charged with assault.

Lennon, who has received death threats in the past and was sent a bullet in the post yesterday, was attacked near the dugout by a fan who ran from a stand housing Hearts' supporters during Wednesday's game before being wrestled away.

The incident occurred shortly after Gary Hooper scored Celtic's second goal four minutes into the second half of the match in Edinburgh which the Glasgow side eventually won 3-0.

John Wilson, 26, appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court where he was charged with breach of the peace aggravated by religious prejudice and assault aggravated by religious prejudice. He was remanded in custody.

Wilson was later banned for life by Hearts, who said they had taken the "severest action open to set the strongest possible deterrent.

"While not wanting to prejudge the outcome of the court case, all true Hearts fans will have been disgusted by what they witnessed," the statement added.

The attack was the latest in a succession of serious incidents involving Lennon, which have raised concerns about religious bigotry and sectarian violence particularly between fans of Celtic and their Glasgow city rivals Rangers.

The acrimony between Celtic, who have a predominantly Catholic fan base, and Rangers, whose supporters are mainly Protestant, is long-running and deep-seated.

"Last night's appalling attack on Neil Lennon brings shame on Scottish football and again highlights the fact that Scottish society must address fundamental and serious issues which lead to outrages of this kind," Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said in a statement.

Yesterday, a package had arrived at the club's home ground which appeared to contain ammunition, Lawwell added.

Media reports said it was another bullet which had been addressed to Lennon, a Northern Irish Catholic.

In January, packages, posted in Northern Ireland, containing bullets were sent to the Celtic manager and one of the team's players.

"Since moving here a decade ago, Neil Lennon has had to endure prejudice and violence both as a player and manager, having suffered no such problems elsewhere," Lawwell said.

Meanwhile, police said two men had been detained in connection with an investigation into parcel bombs sent to Lennon, and two of the club's high-profile fans.

Strathclyde Police said the men aged 41 and 43, were detained under the Explosives Substances Act 1883 after officers made dawn raids on a number of properties in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, southwest Scotland.

Last month police detectives said the parcel bombs could have caused "real harm."

Assistant manager Johan Mjallby told Celtic's official website ( that Lennon had been shocked by Wednesday's incident.

"It's a disgrace," he said. "He's had death threats and he's shaken right now. I have never seen anything like it.

"Neil's a strong character and he's coped with a lot this season and has still been able to work with this team and improve it, so we'll have to wait and see how he feels, but we're all desperate for him to continue doing his work." — Reuters

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