Tiger Woods awarded America’s highest civilian honour by Donald Trump at the White House

3 May

Tiger Woods has been presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour, by Donald Trump in Washington.

The 43-year-old was awarded the honour at a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House a fortnight on from pulling off one of the greatest comebacks in the history of sport with his 15th major triumph at The Masters.

US President Donald Trump presents US golfer Tiger Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom

He is the fourth golfer to have received the award after Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Charles Sifford.

Other past recipients include Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, Aretha Franklin, Billie Jean King, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali.

Woods, who has played golf with President Trump on a number of occasions, wrote on Twitter: “It’s an incredible privilege to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“Considering the recipients, history, and what this means to me and my family, it’s also very humbling.

“Thank you all for your support and I hope this inspires others to never give up on their dreams.”

At the ceremony, Woods delivered an emotional address, in which he thanked his mother and children.

“You have seen the good and the bad, the highs and the lows,” he said. “I would not be in this position without all of your help.”

An emotional Woods thanked those in attendance at the ceremony for their support over the years
Tiger Woods poses with his family and the Trumps at the White House

Woods’ Masters triumph was his 15th major title in total and left him three behind Nicklaus’ all-time record.

It also completed one of sport’s great comebacks after multiple back surgeries and personal issues looked to have cut short both his pursuit of Nicklaus and his career.

The former world number one’s win at Augusta was his 81st victory on the PGA Tour.

Trump had already revealed in a tweet last month that Woods was to receive the honour in the wake of his remarkable fifth Green Jacket at Augusta.

At Monday’s ceremony, Trump described Woods as “a global symbol of American excellence, devotion, and drive.”

Woods clinched his first major title in 11 years by winning the Masters at Augusta National in April

He added: “Tiger, we are inspired by everything you’ve become and attained. The job you’ve done is incredible.

“Your spectacular achievements on the golf course, your triumph over physical adversity and your relentless will to win, win, win; these qualities embody the American spirit of pushing boundaries, defying limits and always striving for greatness.”

Woods’ relationship with Trump, a man unpopular among African Americans, has come under scrutiny.

Last summer, when asked whether he agreed with Trump’s policies, Woods said: “He’s the President of the United States. You have to respect the office.

“No matter who is in the office, you may like, dislike personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office.”

Tiger Woods: Bold punter wins £909,000 with huge bet on American to triumph at the Masters

15 Apr

Tiger Woods’ miraculous Masters victory forced William Hill to pay out £909,000 on one massive bet.

A ballsy £65,000 bet was placed on the 43-year-old two days before the tournament began, resulting in the betting company’s biggest ever golf loss.

Nick Bogdanovich, the company’s US director of trading, said: “It’s great to see Tiger back. It’s a painful day for William Hill – our biggest golf loss ever – but a great day for golf.”

The rest of the sporting world, however, was celebrating after Woods completed one of the greatest comebacks of all time.

Victory at Augusta gave the American his fifth Green Jacket and his 15th major triumph – 11 years after the last one at the 2008 US Open.

His days among the golfing elite appeared to be behind him following four back surgeries, personal scandal and a DUI arrest in 2017.

By the end of that year, Woods was ranked 1,119th in the world and hardly able to walk.

But following his return to form at the Open Championship and US PGA last year, he finally won again at the season-ending Tour Championship.

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And a thrilling display over the weekend reignited his bid to overtake Jack Nicklaus and become the most decorated major champion of all time.

Woods needs four more to surpass Nicklaus on 18, while his 81st PGA Tour victory on Sunday took him to within one of Sam Snead’s record 82.

Performance of the weekend: Tiger Woods’ Masters win thrills and reignites Jack Nicklaus chase

15 Apr

Tiger Woods ended an incredible 3,954 day wait to win his 15th major title as he claimed the 2019 Masters at Augusta with a one-shot finish.

The American sealed victory on Sunday with three birdies in four holes from the 13th and sealing victory with a comfortable one-foot tap-in for bogey after a number of errors from leader Francesco Molinari.

Woods roars with delight after his win

A visibly emotional Woods, roared on the 18th green as he celebrated his success with his two children Charlie and Sam, in scenes reminiscent of his first major win back in 1997, when he and his father Earl Woods, embraced, while his caddie, Joe LaCava and mother Kultida were also there to congratulate him.

The 43-year-old has defied the odds and the critics to claim a fifth Green Jacket and his first win at Augusta since 2005 in what has been hailed as the greatest comeback in sport.

Woods problems away from the golf course have been well documented, including the death of his father in 2006, breakdown of his marriage following an admission of infidelity in 2009, numerous injuries, including four back surgeries and being arrested in 2017 for driving under the influence.

All this meant he played just 24 tournament starts in four years from 2014 and even fell to 1,199 in the world rankings and Woods admitted he was ‘overwhelmed’ by what has happened.

Woods poses with the Masters Trophy at the Green jacket presentation

“To come back here and play as well as I did has meant so much to me and my family – this tournament, and to have everyone here is something I’ll never forget,” Woods said.

“It’s overwhelming because of what has transpired. Last year I was just lucky to be playing again, the previous dinner I was really struggling, missed a couple of years of this great tournament and to now be the champion… it’s unreal for me to experience this.

“I couldn’t be more happy and excited, I’m kind of at a loss for words. To have my kids there, it’s come full circle. My dad was here in ’97 and now I’m the dad with two kids there.”

A number of famous faces from the world of sport and beyond, including Serena Williams, Gareth Bale and Barack Obama all congratulated Woods, while sponsors Nike, released a video featuring the winner at various stages in his career.

Meanwhile, his goal as a three-year-old of usurping Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors is a target now very much back in his sights after claiming his 15th.

As a result of his victory, Tiger Woods is talkSPORT.com‘s Performer of the Weekend.

Tiger Woods wins the Masters: Nike release inspiring video to mark one of sport’s greatest comebacks

15 Apr

Nike have released a powerful advert to crown Tiger Woods’ incredible victory at the 2019 Masters.

The moving clip shows footage of the legendary golfer claiming he would beat Jack Nicklaus’ long-standing record of 18 majors – as he landed his 15th in miraculous fashion.

Woods produced a win for the ages
A young Woods dreams big

Despite being ranked 1,199th in the world and unable to swing a club little more than a year ago, the 43-year-old rolled back the years to seal a fifth Green Jacket at Augusta on Sunday.

Woods famously embraced his father after storming to his first Masters title in 1997 – and 22-years later it was his son Charlie waiting for him at the back of the 18th green.

“I couldn’t be more happy and excited, I’m kind of at a loss for words. To have my kids there, it’s come full circle. My dad was here in ’97 and now I’m the dad with two kids there,” he said.

“My little boy Charlie, that embrace is just special. Sam lost a State soccer tournament yesterday so I convinced her to come up and watch the Masters and luckily I was able to win.

“They were there last year at the Open Championship when I had the lead on that back nine and I made a few mistakes, cost myself a chance to win The Open title.

“I wasn’t going to let that happen to them twice so for them to see what it’s like to have their dad win a major championship, I hope that’s something they will never forget.

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“Prior to my comeback they only knew that golf caused me a lot of pain.

“If I tried to swing a club I would be on the ground and I struggled for years, and that’s basically all they remember.”

Nike, who stood by the icon when several sponsors dropped him in 2009, drew on Woods’ comeback to emphasise the power of dreams.

Watch the inspiring clip below:

 

The Masters 2019: Tiger Woods crowns fairytale comeback with 15th major title

14 Apr

Tiger Woods held his nerve on a wonderfully chaotic final day at Augusta National to win his 15th major title, and a first in 11 years, in the 83rd Masters.

Amid a dizzying series of twists and turns, Woods carded a closing 70 to finish 13 under par, one shot ahead of Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka, the reigning US Open and US PGA champion.

Tiger Woods’ let out his emotions at the finish

Overnight leader Francesco Molinari was two clear with seven to play but dumped his tee shot on the 12th into Rae’s Creek and also double-bogeyed the 15th, the Open champion having to settle for a tie for fifth with Tony Finau, Webb Simpson and Jason Day.

It is the first time Woods has won a major when trailing after 54 holes and comes 3,954 days since he beat Rocco Mediate in a play-off for the 2008 US Open, despite a double stress fracture and knee injury which prompted season-ending surgery.

And it is just two years since he told Jack Nicklaus “I’m done” during the Champions Dinner at Augusta National, after which he flew straight to London to see the consultant who recommended he undergo what proved to be career-saving spinal fusion surgery.

Molinari’s mistake opened the door for Tiger

With thunderstorms forecast to hit the course in mid-afternoon, tournament officials took the unprecedented decision to move the tee times forward by several hours, with players sent out in groups of three from both the first and 10th tees.

Molinari began the day with a two-shot lead over Woods and Finau and found himself three clear after six straight pars, but Woods closed the gap to a single shot with the aid of back-to-back birdies to set up a thrilling finale.

Woods had ridden his luck at times in his third round of 67 and finally paid the price for a wild drive on the 10th, the resulting bogey dropping him two behind Molinari, who saved par superbly after pulling his approach left of the green.

Woods finished 13 under par

However, the wind was playing havoc on the daunting par-three 12th and Molinari, Koepka, Ian Poulter and Finau all dumped their tee shots into the water guarding the front of the green.

Sensing his opportunity, Woods played safely away from the pin and a somewhat nervy par, after leaving his birdie attempt five feet short, gave him a tie for the lead as Molinari could not get up and down following a penalty drop.

An amazing day then took another twist as Patrick Cantlay, who only made the halfway cut with a shot to spare, followed his third round of 64 with five birdies and an eagle on the 15th to briefly claim the lead, only to bogey the next two holes.

Birdies from Johnson and Koepka made it a five-way tie before Molinari’s mishap on the 15th, where Woods two-putted from long range for birdie to take the outright lead for the first time.

Woods was then inches away from the third hole-in-one of the day on the 16th and tapped in for birdie to double his lead, allowing him the luxury of a bogey on the last before the exuberant celebrations could begin as chants of ‘Tiger, Tiger’ reverberated around the 18th green.

“That will be the greatest scene in golf forvever,” said six-time major winner Nick Faldo, commentating for CBS. “We will never see anything as exhilarating as that.”

The Masters 2019 odds: Brooks Koepka slashed from 28/1 to 5/1 favourite to win, Rory McIlroy slips down to ninth

12 Apr

Former world No.1 Brooks Koepka has emerged as the clear favourite to win the Masters after his brilliant opening round at Augusta National.

The American’s odds have been cut from 28/1 to 5/1 to win the major.

Koepka is seeking his fourth major of his career and a first triumph at Augusta

Play started on Thursday and 16 per cent of all bets on the eventual winner have been placed on Koepka wearing the Green Jacket on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Dustin Johnson is second favourite at 13/2, with Bryson DeChambeau (7/1), John Rahm (12/1) and Phil Mickelson (14/1) third, fourth and fifth favourites respectively.

Fellow American Tiger Woods is also 14/1 to win the major while Rickie Fowler (16/1), Adam Scott (25/1) and Rory McIlroy (25/1) outside contenders.


Oddschecker spokesperson George Elek: “Koepka is the early standout and has put himself in a great position. That’s translated into what the public is punting, with Koepka easily the most popular.

“But, with the likes of Dustin Johnson breathing down his neck, he’ll know that there is a long way to go before thinking about a fourth major.”

Below you can see the contenders to win the 2019 Masters.

9 – Rory McIlroy (25/1)

McIlroy has never won at Augusta

9 – Adam Scott (25/1)

Scott won the Masters in 2013

7 – Rickie Fowler (16/1)

US Open: Rickie Fowler sets first-round pace as Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy struggle
Fowler finished second in last year’s Masters

6 – Tiger Woods (14/1)

Tiger Woods shot 70 in the first round at The Masters

6 – Phil Mickelson (14/1)

Phil Mickelson enjoyed a good start to this year’s competition

4 – Jon Rahm (12/1)

Rahm reached a career high of world No.2 in January 2018

3 – Bryson DeChambeau (7/1)

DeChambeau in action in Round One on Thursday

2 – Dustin Johnson (13/2)

Johnson has one major to his name – the U.S Open in 2016
Getty

1 – Brooks Koepka (5/1)

Koepka is the favourite going into the second day at Augusta

The Masters 2019: Why Tiger Woods’ opening round of 70 is bad news for the rest of the field at Augusta

12 Apr

Tiger Woods got off to a solid start at The Masters on Thursday with a two-under-par round of 70.

Most of the field would be content with an under-par first 18 at the notoriously challenging Augusta.

Tiger Woods shot 70 in the first round at The Masters

Woods is tied 11th and four shots off leaders Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka – who shot 66.

Three-time former Masters champions Phil Mickelson is one shot further back after his opening round of 67.

Phil Mickelson enjoyed a good start to this year’s competition

A score of 70 on the opening day is possibly a good omen for the 43-year-old Woods.

In three of his four victories at Augusta, the veteran hit the exact same opening round score and went on to win the Green Jacket.

His first came in 1997 when he won by an astonishing 12 shots. The second was in 2001 when 16-under-par was enough to win.

He made it back-to-back victories the following year and became the first person since Nick Faldo in 1990 to defend his title.

Woods’ fourth, and last, win at The Masters came in 2005 but he had to come back from a disappointing opening round of 74 to win.

He eventually fought his way back to win a play-off against Chris DiMarco.

The 14-time major champion will tee off for his second round at this year’s competition at 5.49pm (GMT) with Jon Rahm and Haotong Li.

The Masters 2019: Hole-by-hole guide to Augusta National as Francesco Molinari, Tiger Woods and co eye glory

11 Apr

The Augusta National is home to some of the most famous holes in golf and they will be on show once again with The 2019 Masters upon us.

From Fire Thorn to Azalea – and don’t forget Flowering Crabapple – every hole is familiar and provides the perfect setting for the first Major of the year.

Here’s how the pros will tackle all 18 and The Masters memories that have been made over the years.

1st

Plays as one of the hardest holes on the course thanks to the subtle undulations of the green and magnet-like bunker on the right of the fairway.

The first tee shot is also one of the most nerve-wracking shots of the round, so hit a bad one and it could set the tone for the rest of the day.

2nd

This hole can throw up everything from an albatross to a bogey and is one of the most exciting on the course.

Players need to hit a raking draw off the tee and feather the second shot up the narrow shoot at the front of the green.

3rd

If the wind is blowing strong from behind and conditions are firm underfoot then the longest hitters will smash a driver up near the green.

If they don’t then it is all about laying up to a yardage that suits them for a wedge second shot to a hole where they will look for birdie.

4th

The green is a massive target but players will be going in with a long iron and need to hit the correct part of the putting surface to leave themselves a look at birdie and par.

Danger lurks all around but it is better to miss it in the bunkers short because then players will be hitting back into a green that slopes towards them.

5th

 

This hole is long, uphill and a dogleg to the left that forces players to hug the left side of the sloping fairway – while avoiding the bunkers, which require a carry of 315 yards to miss.

A demanding par four, it has been lengthened by 40 yards this year and was inspired by the legendary Road Hole at St Andrews.

6th

Players will use a mid iron to hit down the slope to this undulating green, which can throw up a number of pin positions.

There used to be a stream in front of the green but that was taken out and now there remains a solitary bunker to gobble up a mishit shot.

7th

Drives need to find the fairway here so players have ultimate control over spin for their second shots.

Five traps guard the green but, because pros will be going in with a short or mid iron, birdie is a decent shout on this hole.

8th

An uphill hole where the bunker on the right side of the fairway must be avoided if competitors want to reach the green in two.

The second shot will need to be a draw played around the trees to a long thin green which throws up the chance of an eagle.

9th

A drive down the right side of the fairway gives the best angle into this green which slopes severely from back to front.

Players will need to watch the amount of spin on their second shots because even one which lands safely on the green could end up rolling back down the fairway.

10th

This monster par four plays less than it yardage because of how steeply downhill it is.

Again a draw needs to be played off the tee with anything from a driver to a long iron but the difficulty doesn’t end there, with a sloping green another reason why this hole typically plays as the toughest on the course.

11th

Kneel down and say a little prayer, because this is the start of Amen Corner.

The tee shot is downhill and needs to be hit from left to right. The second shot must avoid the pond short left of the green. Banks on the right can be used as a bail out. Par is a great score on the course’s hardest hole.

12th

One of the world’s most famous holes. To quote Arnold Palmer’s wider saying on golf in general, the 12th at Augusta is deceptively simple yet endlessly complicated.

The swirling winds make club selection absolutely pivotal and Rae’s Creek sits short of the bunker and green. The bank will funnel any balls hit short back into a watery grave.

13th

A right to left tee shot for right handers opens up a shot to a green guarded by a tributary to Rae’s Creek and four bunkers – not to mention a huge flowerbed – behind.

Another brilliant risk/reward hole, this one arguably more than any other has been responsible for determining who ends up with the green jacket and has had everything from Phil Mickelson’s astonishing shot from behind the trees to Tiger Woods putting into the water.

14th

Completely devoid of bunkers, this hole’s defence is its nerve-racking green which will test even the steadiest of hearts and hands.

The putting surface slopes significantly from left to right and every putt on it needs to be treated with the utmost respect.

15th

This hole is all about the second shot. Players need to carry the water short, avoid the bunker on the right and not go long over the back, where more water awaits.

Like all of Augusta’s par fives, eagle here is just as likely as a bogey and it throws up many heart-in-your-mouth moments coming so late in the round.

16th

If you put your money on there being a hole in one in the Masters, then chances are it will come here.

Competitors will go in with a short to mid iron to a green that slopes heavily from right to left. The pin is often placed where balls naturally gather – but don’t go too far left into the water.

17th

The tee shot and second shot should provide the pros with few troubles – but it’s a different story when they get to the green.

It slopes off in all directions and, should a player miss it, then there is no such thing as an easy up and down for par.

18th

One of golf’s most iconic tee shots, players will rip a driver or 3-wood through a narrow shoot of trees while hoping to avoid the sand on the left.

The green is split into two distinct tiers and is protected by a bunker short and another on the right, which will see a lot of action over the week.

* Picture credit SunSport

The Masters 2019 tips: Super Computer predicts where Francesco Molinari, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and co will finish at Augusta

11 Apr

The 2019 Masters is upon us as golf’s greatest descend on Augusta National looking to get their hands on a legendary Green Jacket.

The first Major of the year is always a special event with the Georgia course providing the perfect backdrop to all the drama.

If McIlroy wins, it would complete a career Grand Slam for him

It’s one of the highlights of the sporting calendar and to mark the occasion, talkSPORT has fired up its famous Super Computer to predict who will make up the top ten come Sunday evening.

This year’s tournament is one of the most unpredictable in years with a host of star names in contention.

Here’s how our Super Computer sees the final leaderboard of The Masters.

10. Brooks Koepka

Koepka won two of the four Majors in 2018 but is yet to produce his best at Augusta. We have the 28-year-old from Jupiter, Florida making the top ten this year but only just.

9. Tiger Woods

The four-time Masters champion is a legend around the famous old course and is looking for glory again this year. A top ten for the golfing icon looks good but the stacked field could scupper his chances.

8. Jon Rahm

The 24-year-old Spaniard will be one of golf’s biggest stars for years to come and already has a top-four finish at the Masters on his CV. He could go close again this year but may have to wait for his first Major title.

7. Francesco Molinari

Few golfers have ever had a better year than Molinari did in 2018. Unfortunately for the Italian, Augusta just doesn’t seem to suit his game with his previous best being T19. While he could improve on that this year, a Green Jacket looks set to elude him.

Masters legend Tiger Woods has won the event four times

6. Justin Thomas

JT is another young man set for a glittering career but is also yet to show what he can do at the Masters. The Kentucky man will be a threat but a top five could just be too much.

5. Justin Rose

The English Rose somehow still has only one Major title to his name. A mixed start to this season could mean he’ll come up short again following his second place finish two years ago.

4. Dustin Johnson

One of the top ranked players in the world, DJ is another man with just one Major going into this week’s tournament. He’ll be eager to add to that tally in 2019 but the Masters looks set to just pass him by.

3. Jordan Spieth

The champion from 2015 will be right in the mix yet again this year but his poor form so far this season could mean he’ll have to wait for another Green Jacket.

Jordan Spieth will be looking to win his second Green Jacket, having won it in 2015

2. Rickie Fowler

Second last year and on a course that suits his game well, Fowler will yet again be near the top of the leaderboard. Still without a Major title, the 30-year-old may have to wait until later in the summer to claim his first.

1. Rory McIlroy

McIlroy has had to wait since 2014 to claim his career Grand Slam but he could be set to achieve that remarkable feat this week. The northern Irishman has a chequered past at Augusta but he could lay his old demons to rest with a stunning win in 2019.

What time will The Masters final round begin? Start time change, TV and live stream info, cut details for Augusta showpiece

11 Apr

The champion of the 2019 Masters will be crowned today.

The stunning Augusta National has played host to a brilliant tournament so far in the first Major of the year.

Masters champion Patrick Reed

Francesco Molinari is the leading the rest after three rounds but the likes of Tiger Woods, Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka are still firmly in the hunt for glory in Georgia.

Who will win another memorable Masters? Here’s everything you need to know about it.

The Masters 2019: When is it?

The tournament will take place between Thursday, April 11 and Sunday, April 14 and is as ever being held at Augusta National in Georgia.

Due to anticipated bad weather in the USA, the tee times for Sunday’s final round have been brought forward.

Play will now begin at 12:30pm UK Time with the leaders getting underway at 2:20pm.

The groupings will start simultaneously on the first and 10th tees and all players will be out in threes instead of the usual twos.

Rory McIlroy will be looking for glory at The Masters

The Masters 2019: How can I watch it on TV?

Every day of the tournament will be live on Sky Sports Golf and Main Event with their full coverage beginning at 8pm on Thursday.

You can stream it on NOW TV with passes from £8.99 and watch on your TV box, games console, tablet, mobile or PC.

After the cut on day two, all the action from the weekend will be also broadcast free-to-air on BBC TWO.

BBC Masters schedule

  • Friday, April 12 – Day 1 highlights (9.15am on red button, 7pm on BBC TWO and also via BBC iPlayer)
  • Saturday, April 13 – Day 2 highlights (9.15am on red button, 1.15pm on BBC ONE and also via BBC iPlayer)
  • Saturday, April 13 – Day 3 LIVE (7.30pm on BBC TWO and also via BBC iPlayer)
  • Sunday, April 14 – Day 4 LIVE (1.55pm on BBC TWO and also via BBC iPlayer)
Masters legend Tiger Woods

The Masters 2019: Who missed the cut?

This year’s 36-hole cut was +3, the following players missed out:

Justin Rose

Stewart Cink

Justin Rose

Mike Weir

Kevin O’Connell

Danny Willett

Sergio Garcia

Adam Long

Brandt Snedeker

Fred Couples

Shugo Imahira

Charl Schwartzel

Larry Mize

Shane Lowry

Matt Wallace

Jovan Rebula

Michael Kim

Paul Casey

Vijay Singh

Ian Woosnam

Jose Maria Olazabal

Angel Cabrera