Tiger Woods withdraws from PGA Championship

TULSA, Oklahoma – Tiger Woods, who is still struggling with his comeback after a serious leg injury in a car accident last year, has withdrawn from the PGA Championship.

Woods, a four-time winner of the event, limped and moved stiffly on Saturday. He shot a nine-over par 79. After just making the cut on Friday, Woods dropped to 12-over par for the final draw. Saturday’s result was Woods’ highest score in 22 PGA Championship appearances, spanning 81 rounds.

His faltering gait and deteriorating play were so noticeable that Woods was asked afterwards if he still planned to play in Sunday’s fourth round.

“Well, I’m in pain,” he replied. “I know that’s a fact. We’ll do some work and see how it goes.”

He did not address whether he would compete in another tournament.

Others struggled with the weather.

The last time the PGA Championship was played at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa in 2007, the temperature reached 105 degrees. But that was in Oklahoma in August.

The PGA Championship is now contested in May and the third round of the event on Saturday brought 50s temperatures, gale-force winds and a field twitchy from the taxing conditions.

With shots made unpredictable by whirling gusts of wind, a bevy of golfers jockeyed for the lead, including the unheralded Mito Pereira of Chile, who charged into a commanding lead over his colleagues midway through his round. But the second round leader, Will Zalatoris, who has finished in the top 10 four times in his last five major championships, caught Pereira a few holes later.

Then Cameron Young, a young rising star on the PGA Tour, and Bubba Watson, a 43-year-old two-time Masters champion, came within a stroke of the lead.

By the time the game ended on Saturday night, Pereira, who is 27 and only in his second major golf championship, had confidently, even audaciously, reclaimed first place in the standings. After a third round 69 he goes into Sunday’s final round three-stroke ahead of Zalatoris and Matthew Fitzpatrick of England.

Pereira, after a stumble in the middle of the round, jumped past the other contenders in the third round with consecutive birdies on the 13th and 14th holes. He then ended his day with a packed 18th green who cheered him on by sinking a 27-foot birdie putt to go down to nine for the tournament.

While Pereira, who ranks 100th worldwide, is not a household name in professional golf, this year he has finished in the top 20 on the PGA Tour three times and won three times on the Korn Ferry Tour, the top minor league circuit. of the tour.

Zalatoris had a rocky start on Saturday, shooting a four-over 39 on the front nine, but sustained himself by curing some of his issues by shooting a rocky 73.

After bogeying his first two holes, Fitzpatrick was five-under for the rest of his round to shoot 67.

Young, whose father is David Young, the longtime golf professional at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in the suburbs of New York, made a late attack when he reached the 17th hole of 296-meter par 4 by driving the green and making a short putt. With four birdies in his round, Young shot 67 and was in fourth place five-under overall.

After a sparkling front nine, Watson, who hit his ball into seven bunkers in Saturday’s round, faltered and shot 73 and tied for seventh.

Woods’ problems on Saturday were no doubt exacerbated by the weather in Tulsa. With a back that has undergone five surgeries, Woods has disliked playing in cold, damp conditions for over a decade because it reduces the flexibility and fluidity of his golf swing. He also has yet to make any necessary adjustments to his game as he continues to recover from last year’s car accident that shattered several bones in his lower right leg.

Those limitations were fully apparent even before Woods stalled Saturday morning when his rebuilt right leg gave way as he descended a slope next to a practice bunker and nearly plunged into the sand. Woods had to use a golf club and a quick step with his left leg to stay upright.

Once his round started, it was clear that Woods’ diminished physical ability would dramatically affect his score. His tee shot on the second hole was driven into a creek and led to a bogey. He recovered with three pairs, but then messed up the 218-yard par 3 sixth hole. Woods looked sore even then and especially struggled to hit his irons at the necessary distances. Some were also not online.

On the sixth hole, his tee shot was short and left and ended up in a water hazard. After a penalty drop drop, his third shot into the rough was just outside the green and another chip, due about 100 yards, covered only half that distance. Two putts later, Woods had a triple bogey.

He then bogeyed on six of his next seven holes. Woods seemed alternately embarrassed and annoyed, but marched on. Always the grinder, he collected four pairs and a birdie in his last five holes to avoid shooting 80.

“I didn’t hit the ball very well and didn’t get the start I needed,” Woods said later. “I thought I hit a good tee shot down 2 and ended up in the water, but I never really got momentum on my side.

“I couldn’t get off the bogeyman train there. Like I said, I just didn’t – I wasn’t doing anything right. I didn’t get many good shots. As a result, I ended up with a pretty high score.”

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