WORLD DIGESTS TIGER ABSENCE

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The Open without Tiger Woods, the Ryder Cup without him as well. Golf for the rest of 2008 has just taken on a whole new look.

The Open without Tiger Woods, the Ryder Cup without him as well. Golf for the rest of 2008 has just taken on a whole new look.
Some of the world number one’s leading rivals will be licking their lips, of course, at the thought of raising the Claret Jug in his absence at Royal Birkdale next month.
But the main two things on people’s minds will be to wish him well – and to marvel at how on earth he won the US Open on Monday.
Hard as it is to believe, Woods played at Torrey Pines knowing he had a double stress fracture of his left tibia and with his left knee in such a state that he now requires reconstructive surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament.
Either of those is serious in anybody’s language. To have both and come out of 91 holes in five days – that is a 35-mile walk – with his 14th major title is simply mind-boggling.
For the first time, though, there have to be serious doubts now about whether he will get to Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18.
Yes he won the US Open with only one good leg and after a two-month break, but there can be no guarantees when he goes under the knife again that there will be a full recovery.
America’s Ryder Cup team and captain Paul Azinger will probably try to look on the bright side.
But not one of them, of course, would choose to face Europe without arguably – perhaps that should now be “unquestionably” – the greatest golfer of all-time.
He did, after all, come back from that horrendous first shot into the lake at The K Club two years ago to win three of his five games. And he has not lost a singles since his 1997 debut against Costantino Rocca.
In the Open, meanwhile, he has won three times this decade and been the centre of attention every time he has played.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell spoke for many when he said: “It is massively disappointing for all the tournaments involved.
“It is a big deal – no Tiger at the Open, US PGA, the Ryder Cup. I listened to his speech on Monday and it was clear he was thinking of something along those lines, but I wasn’t thinking he would take the rest of the year off.
“It is career-threatening for him and he has to take it seriously.
“From the point of view of going to Birkdale in a few weeks, it is an advantage and we have a chance. The best player in the world by a long way is not going to be there.
“But it will take away from the atmosphere and he is the type of player we love to have in the field.”
Michael Campbell, one of the few players in world golf to have held off Tiger Woods to win a major, expects him to return with “all guns blazing” next season.
The 2005 US Open champion, also in Munich, said: “To have such an icon like Tiger not play for the rest of the year, we will miss him.
“It will be quite different not to have Tiger in any events. He adds so much, another dimension to every tournament he plays in.
“It’s a shame. I understand the disappointment of the fans and sponsors not seeing him perform – he does great things for TV, like how he finished the third round last week.”
England’s Ross Fisher, who battled with Woods in Dubai last year, added: “To go out and win with a knee injury like that is phenomenal.
“It just shows how mentally strong he is and what a great golfer he is. To hear he is not going to play for the rest of the year is a massive blow to golf.”

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