The Reuters global sports blog
One of the most riveting final rounds at the Masters left Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy dealing with bitter disappointment, although they each appear to have bright prospects going forward.
Woods, without a tournament win for nearly 17 months, looked like the Tiger of old as he charged into contention over the front nine at Augusta National on Sunday, banishing any thought he might be a spent force.
He may have stalled in his title bid after the turn as his putter cooled but his inspired form from tee to green, which sparked trademark Tiger roars across the course, suggested a 15th major victory could be on the immediate horizon.
Britain’s McIlroy will almost certainly take longer to come to terms with his major heartache, having suffered one of the worst final-round collapses of all time in a grand slam event.
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.
To 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.
If golf is an island of civilisation in a world of sport awash with cheating then the Ryder Cup is the coconut-laden palm tree on top.
Golf’s core values are honesty, self-regulation, absolute and unquestioning observance of even the most archaic rules and its great gift to the world – etiquette.
If any further proof was needed that this has been a golfing year unlike any other for Tiger Woods, simply reflect on the optimism he expressed after he failed to qualify for this week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta.
For the first time in 15 years, the American world number one has ended a PGA Tour season without claiming a single victory but he says he has drawn great comfort from the form he has shown over the last month.
Tiger Woods’s failure to qualify for the Tour Championship finale in Atlanta next week could spell bad news for Europe’s Ryder Cup team.
The world number one will now have two clear weeks before the biennial team event at Celtic Manor in Wales to polish up his swing with new coach Sean Foley and reinvigorate his mind after a year of turmoil both on and off the course.
Tiger Woods was named as one of four wildcard picks for next month’s Ryder Cup by United States captain Corey Pavin on Tuesday.
The American world number one, who failed to gain automatic selection for the biennial team competition after struggling for form for much of this year, was selected by Pavin to compete in his sixth Ryder Cup.
One happened in Tokyo in 1990, the other in Minnesota in 2009. One marked the beginning of the end for the predominate athlete of his sport, the question now is, did the other also mark the end of dominance for Tiger Woods.
Mike Tyson’s reputation seemed to intimidate opponents before they even stepped into the ring. Before the fight in Tokyo, Tyson was unbeaten as a professional and routinely knocked his foes out in the first round.
Professional golf has benefited from two refreshing developments over the last year-and-a-half: the stunning impact made by some of the younger guns and a preponderance of first-time winners in the majors.
Sensational victories in the United States and Japan by Rory McIlroy and Ryo Ishikawa in early June served notice a new guard may be emerging to dominate the game over the next decade.