Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Thomas Bjorn withdraws from PGA Championship with back injury

Justin Thomas Justin Thomas tried valiantly to get Jarrod Lyle's trademark bucket hat to the tournament but they had to settle for yellow ribbons. Pic GettyMore
Cassandra Castillo | 08 August, 2018, 23:58

"I think I was probably a little more anxious past year, just because there was a big focus right after winning the Open Championship", Spieth said Tuesday as thunder boomed and rain pelted Bellerive Country Club, washing out many practice rounds.

"I have put myself in contention in the majors". I haven't closed out those tournaments as I would have liked, but at least I'm putting myself in position, and that's all I can do. I've done a lot of good things.

"I've done well, I'm slowly getting back up the world rankings". I know how to play the game of golf.

"It's great to win one and be classed as a major champion, but I want to do it multiple times in my career".

The remaining South Africans - Brandon Stone, Dylan Frittelli and Justin Harding - all enter the week with low expectations from outside observers but each have displayed enough potential to raise a few eyebrows.

"But it's a process". I think my best chance since Valhalla was at Carnoustie, but in golf you just have to be an eternal optimist. "He just had his fourth back surgery, so to get to this point is a phenomenal achievement already".

A Sunday 63 at Firestone, inspired by a red-hot putter, was the ideal way to arrest an otherwise forgettable event for the one-time Major victor, who has a solid record of advancing to the weekend at the PGA.

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But anecdotal evidence would suggest that Woods had a stiff back on Saturday when he shot a 73 at Firestone Country Club, making just one birdie.

"I needed that day off, " Woods said.

"I didn't get up here pre British Open and yesterday (Monday) I took the day off. So certainly emphasis in my head on it, but nothing overpowering, nothing that takes over once I start on the first tee, just more going into the week".

"I have three or four weeks before I have to make those picks. So things are going to be different from day-to-day, and it's just about managing it".

That noise? It's softened considerably during the previous year, and the spotlight that accompanied him to Quail Hallow shines a little less brightly on Spieth in St. Louis. And while Gramps has been there for many of his career-defining moments, there are many distant relatives that will get to see him compete for the first time this week.

Most significantly, Woods also led the Open at Carnoustie with eight holes to play, only to double bogey the 11th and drop another shot on the next as playing partner Francesco Molinari went on to lift the Claret Jug.

While familiarity can breed success Woods insists that this week form and conditions will be more important than experience.

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