Golf

'Vulnerable' Tiger Woods withdraws from Safeway Open

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AP

'Vulnerable' Tiger Woods withdraws from Safeway Open

The comeback of Tiger Woods is going to have to wait at least two more months.

Three days before Woods planned to end his longest break from golf at the Safeway Open, he abruptly withdrew on Monday and said his game was not ready to take on PGA Tour competition.

"My health is good, and I feel strong," Woods said on his website. "But my game is vulnerable and not where it needs to be."

And so the waiting continues.

Woods first announced on Sept. 7 that he planned to play three times by the end of the year, starting with the Safeway Open at Silverado Resort in Napa, California. Then, he officially committed to the tournament on Friday.

The buzz was building for his return, with word leaking that he would be paired with Phil Mickelson and defending Silverado champion Emiliano Grillo. Instead, Woods withdrew from the Safeway Open and the Turkish Airlines Open on Nov. 3-6 after what he described as "a lot of soul searching."

He said he plans to play at his Hero World Challenge on Dec. 1-4 in the Bahamas.

"When I announced last week I was going to Safeway, I had every intention of playing, or I wouldn't have committed," Woods said.

He was at the Ryder Cup two weeks ago as an assistant captain and said the experience "inspired me even more to play." Woods said he practiced the last several days in California, where he also went to Stanford's football game against Washington State.

"But after a lot of hours, I knew I wasn't ready to compete against the best golfers in the world," he said. "I would like to apologize and send my regrets to Safeway, the Turkish Airlines Open, the fans in California and Turkey and those that had hoped to watch me compete on TV. This isn't what I wanted to happen, but I will continue to strive to be able to play tournament golf.

"I'm close, and I won't stop until I get there."

Woods last played on Aug. 23, 2015, at the Wyndham Championship. Two shots out of the lead going into the final round, he closed with a 70 and tied for 10th. A month later, he announced he had another operation on his back. Then, Woods had a third back surgery in October.

He missed all four majors for the first time in his career.

Johnny Miller, the tournament host at Silverado, said Woods pledged he would return to the Safeway Open next year if he is able. The Safeway Open is the first tournament in the PGA Tour's wraparound schedule.

"It is a huge impact on our tournament, the Safeway Open," Miller told Golf Channel. "Obviously, I wish Tiger the best. Everybody was so excited in the golf world and here in Northern California. ... I know there is a lot of pressure on Tiger after 14 months away from professional golf. The expectation and nervous level has got to be almost like when he played in his first L.A. Open when he was a kid.

"It is hard being Tiger Woods. It really is," Miller said. "Especially if he can't back it up with semblance of the old Tiger Woods. And everybody expects him to come back and play like he did in the year 2000. That is just not going to happen. He has got to break the ice sometime. I hope he picks the right spot."

Notah Begay, his closest friend in golf and a former Stanford teammate, said the withdrawal was surprising based on what they had talked about at the Ryder Cup. Begay took a week off from his broadcast duties at NBC Sports at Hazeltine to drive Woods' cart.

"It's not body-related," Begay told Golf Channel. "I just think it might be the in-between shots. ... As we all know, it is not just a succession of full shots that are required on the PGA Tour. You have to have the feel shots, the in-between shots. Just not having had enough time to get the reps in prior to would be my guess based upon my conversations with Tiger."

Woods was at Pebble Beach on Monday for a private event that benefits his foundation.

With support of Spieth and Fowler, Thomas rallies to win PGA Championship

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USATSI

With support of Spieth and Fowler, Thomas rallies to win PGA Championship

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Justin Thomas emerged from the shadow of a longtime friend and won the PGA Championship to take his place among the young elite in golf.

With two big breaks to start the back nine, a chip-in for birdie and a 7-iron that soared over the water to a peninsula green, Thomas closed with a 3-under 68 and won by two shots. The PGA Championship was the most fitting major for the 24-year-old son of a PGA professional.

Mike Thomas, a former PGA board member and longtime pro in Kentucky, walked along the edge of the 18th green and into the arms of his son, a major champion.

The week began with Jordan Spieth's quest for a career Grand Slam. Spieth was at the 18th green late Sunday afternoon at Quail Hollow, but only so he could celebrate the moment with Thomas, close friends since they were 14.

"So awesome, dude," Spieth told him.

It was every bit of that.

With five players still in the mix in the final hour, Thomas surged ahead by chipping in from 40 feet on the par-3 13th hole, and holding his nerve down the stretch as his challenger eventually faded, one after another.

Hideki Matsuyama, bidding to become the first player from Japan to win a major, appeared to recover from back-to-back bogeys with two straight birdies on the 14th and 15th holes to get within one shot. But the championship turned on the 16th hole.

Thomas faced a 6-foot par putt to stay at 8 under. Matsuyama caught a good lie over the green and chipped to 5 feet. Thomas wasted no time over the putt and drilled it in the center of cup. Matsuyama missed and was two shots behind.

Thomas sealed it with a 7-iron from 221 yards that cleared the water and rolled out to 15 feet. The birdie putt curled in and his lead was up to three going to the 18th. A final bogey only affected the score.

He finished at 8-under 276, his fourth victory of the year.

Kevin Kisner was the last one who had a chance to catch him. But he three-putted from 100 feet on the 16th for bogey, couldn't birdie the 17th from long range and hit his second shot into the water and finished with a double bogey. Kisner, the 54-hole leader, closed with a 74.

Matsuyama also hit into the water on No. 18 and made bogey for a 72 to finish three back.

Louis Oosthuizen (70), Patrick Reed (67) and Francesco Molinari (67) tied for second, though none had a chance to win playing the 18th.

Jordan Spieth dominates late to win the Open Championship

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USATSI

Jordan Spieth dominates late to win the Open Championship

On the back of a roller-coaster 1-under 69 and one of the most enteraining back nines of his career, Jordan Spieth won the 146th Open Championship on Sunday by three strokes over Matt Kuchar. Here’s how Spieth emerged from the practice area's equipment trailers to claim the claret jug on Sunday at Royal Birkdale:

Leaderboard (click here for full field scores): Spieth (-12), Kuchar (-9), Haotong Li (-6), Rory McIlroy (-5), Cabrera Bello (-5), Matthew Southgate (-4), Marc Leishman (-4), Alex Noren (-4)

The Champion Golfer of the Year: The win gives Spieth his 11th career Tour victory, his third major championship, and the third leg of the career Grand Slam. He did not make it easy on himself. Spieth squandered his three-shot lead in four holes and went to the back nine tied with Kuchar at 8 under after going out in 3-over 37. Still tied at 8 under through 12, Spieth played one of the most unforgettable holes in golf history at 13. After sailing his drive into a dune, he took an unplayable, walked onto the adjacent practice area, took relief from the parked equipment trailers and somehow – over the course of a half-hour – made bogey. Seemingly refocused and re-energized by the ordeal, he followed up with a birdie the par-3 14th and an eagle the par-5 15th and another birdie at the par-4 16th to take a two-shot lead with two to play. Thanks to yet another birdie at 17 and a par at 18, Spieth played his final five holes in 5 under to win by three - the same margin he started with on Sunday. He is now just one of two players – along with Jack Nicklaus – to win his third different major before the age of 24. He will have his first chance to complete the slam in three weeks at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.

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