Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Augusta offers comfort factor but will it be enough for Woods?

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GOLF/Tiger Woods returned to competition at last week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in the Arizona desert under increasing pressure to clean up his game and his on-course demeanour.

Although he showed distinct signs of improvement in the latter category, his week ended abruptly when he was eliminated by Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn after 19 holes in the opening round.

It is now a distant 15 months since Woods last won a tournament anywhere in the world and he would dearly love to end that barren run with the first major of the year – the April 7-10 U.S. Masters — fast approaching.

Woods is a four-times champion at Augusta National, the permanent home of the Masters, and that venue offers him a comfort factor more than most others.

Why all the fuss about being world number one?

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GOLF-RANKINGS/WESTWOODTo much fanfare, Lee Westwood has ended the 281-week reign of Tiger Woods as golf’s world number one yet the fact the Briton has not won a major raises a couple of questions — Do rankings reward consistency rather than great achievement? And how much do they really matter?

According to former world number one and six-times major winner Nick Faldo, the answer is not as much as the big tournaments.

Six of the best for Europe as Ryder Cup approaches

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GOLF/Could the balance of power in world golf be shifting from the U.S. to Europe at the start of Ryder Cup year? Americans have traditionally dominated the upper echelons of the rankings but German Martin Kaymer and Briton Ian Poulter’s one-two finish in the Abu Dhabi Championship on Sunday lifted the pair into the world’s top-10 for the first time.

With Kaymer (sixth) and Poulter (10th) joining Lee Westwood (fourth), Padraig Harrington (seventh), Henrik Stenson (eighth) and Paul Casey (ninth), Europe now have a record-equalling six players among the leading 10.

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