Tiger Woods in hospital: Hopefully he can still play with his kids and have a normal life – Rahm

By Sports Desk February 23, 2021

Spanish star Jon Rahm said he hopes Tiger Woods "can still play with his kids and have a normal life" after the golf great was involved in a single-car crash.

Woods was "very fortunate" to survive a car crash in California on Tuesday that left the 15-time major champion with serious leg injuries and question marks hanging over his career.

The 45-year-old American superstar underwent surgery at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center after an early morning crash that saw his car roll "several hundred feet", according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Woods, who had to be pulled from his vehicle with specialist equipment and an axe, was already recovering from back surgery ahead of April's Masters at Augusta.

His career has been hampered by a long-standing back issue, which has required five procedures in recent years.

Rahm reacted to the news as shockwaves were sent through the golf and sport's world amid reports of  compound fractures to both legs.

"As if his body hasn't endured enough," Rahm said as he prepares for Thursday's WGC-Workday Championship.

"Just hoping out of a bad situation, the best possible outcome, and I hope he can recover from it and we can see him on the golf course as early as possible.

"I know he underwent surgery early this year, so I hope he didn't damage anything he had done already.

"I just hope he can get out of the hospital after recovery and he can still play with his kids and have a normal life."

Tony Finau – also gearing up for the WGC event at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida – was part of the Woods-led United States team that defeated the Internationals at the 2019 Presidents Cup in Melbourne.

"He means a lot to the game of golf," Finau said. "I've said it I think time after time, the '97 Masters changed the course of my life.

"Without that event I probably wouldn’t be here, I wouldn't be playing golf, so he definitely changed the course of my life, my career. I think I'm one of hundreds of guys out here probably that would say the same thing.

"We all know he's a strong cookie physically, mentally, so if someone's going to get through this, he will and be back for the better, I'm sure. My thoughts and prayers I'm sure, as all the players, I can speak on their behalf, are with Tiger."

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    Hideki Matsuyama's history-making Masters triumph has changed the face of golf, according to the 29-year-old's former caddie.

    Matsuyama claimed the famous green jacket on Sunday, becoming the first Japanese man to win a major tournament in the process.

    His victory came in thrilling fashion, Matsuyama seeing off competition from Will Zalatoris, Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele to finish 10 under par at Augusta.

    Before Matsuyama's achievement, female stars Hinako Shibuno (2019 Women's British Open) and Chako Higuchi (1977 LPGA Championship) were Japan's previous golf major winners.

    Daisuke Shindo caddied for Matsuyama between 2013 and 2018, and he believes Matsuyama's win will lead to a change in the sport not only in Asia, but across the globe.

    "He has made history, not only in Japan but also Asia and the world. I think it was a moment that changed the world of golf. I think it was such a great achievement," Shindo told Stats Perform News.

    "I think that is huge. We grew up watching Tiger Woods when we were young. I grew up watching Jumbo Ozaki and Shigeki Maruyama. I still admire them now.

    "I think it was a great inspiration for all the children who saw Hideki win the Masters, and not only the children but also the professional golfers.

    "I think Hideki's victory had a great impact on people who don't play golf. For the past a couple of days, I've been hearing 'golf, golf' anywhere all over town. It's amazing. I've never heard ordinary young people talking about golf. I think it's amazing."

    Shindo also backed Matsuyama to win another major this year, as he believes his ex-university classmate has finally delivered on his promise after previously managing five PGA Tour wins.

    "Every player is really hard on themselves. That's why they keep the position as top athletes," Shindo added.

    "But if you're too hard on yourself, you're not going to be able to relax and you're going to get frustrated. Golf is a sport [in] which you have to accept mistakes, but it's very important to find a balance. I think Matsuyama accepted his mistakes this time and played golf in a very positive way.

    "Even in a tough situation, he didn't panic, and even when the flow of the game was bad, he was always patient. He didn't look frustrated, he wasn’t shaken at all and looked calm.

    "I still play golf and have dinner with Hideki when he comes back to Japan. We are more like brothers in arms than former partners.

    "I was really happy. I saw how he was always fighting, with all the pressure from Japanese supporters. At the moment Hideki was finally rewarded, I really cried."

    One certain way to cement golf's growing popularity in Japan would be with a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, with Shindo foreseeing a rise to world number one.

    "I think it has boosted the confidence of not just Matsuyama but all the members of 'Team Matsuyama'," Shindo said.

    "It's a great way to build momentum as a team. Now Hideki has that confidence. I think the team will be strong when that happens. I am confident that he will win a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

    "For Hideki, it's better for him to have a little pressure. He is such a strong and big guy. I think he's going to do well at the Olympics and he's going to be number one in the world ranking.

    "When I was on tour with him, his highest ranking was two, but I think he will rise to number one."

  • Gary Player says Tiger Woods' major-winning days are over: I don't think he'll be a real force again Gary Player says Tiger Woods' major-winning days are over: I don't think he'll be a real force again

    Gary Player believes Tiger Woods will never win another major or be "a real force again" in golf.

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    The 45-year-old hopes to return to competition, but the day that happens is a long way off.

    The Los Angeles County Sheriff said Woods was driving at over 80 miles per hour in a 45mph zone on February 23 when he lost control of his Genesis SUV and came off the road, hitting a tree. He was said on the day of the crash to have been fortunate to survive the impact.

    Player, who won nine majors in his own storied career, says it is hard to see Woods reviving the all-conquering game that brought him so much glory.

    However, he expects the American superstar, who has battled back problems over the last seven years, to play again.

    "Oh yes, my answer is emphatically yes," Player told Stats Perform News. "Yes, I do believe he will come back, and I do believe he will play in tournaments, but I don't believe he will win another major.

    "He is getting on in age. Yes, I won the Masters at 42, [Jack] Nicklaus won it at 46, but he has been playing with a bad back. He has had four or five operations on his back - it's fused. He's had knee problems, he has had so many problems and eventually they can wear you down."

    Woods has also spoken in the past of a "sleep disorder", and South African all-time great Player pointed to that as another possible factor that makes it improbable the former world number one will rise to the top of the game once more.

    "So I don't think he will ever come out and be a real force again, but I hope I'm wrong," Player said. "I pray I am wrong, but that is just my opinion.

    "I am not being naive and I am not being arrogant in my opinion - according to doctors, some doctors say he won't, some doctors say he will - but the will of a man is more important than a doctor's opinion sometimes."

    Player, 85, is one of only five players, along with Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen, to have won golf's modern career Grand Slam by triumphing at each of the Masters, Open Championship, US PGA Championship and U.S. Open.

    He said he missed Woods "terribly" during the recent Masters week.

    "I can only tell you at the Masters dinner, with 33 champions in the room, it was brought up and everybody said, 'hear, hear', how much we miss Tiger and we hope he'll be back soon," Player said.

    "To the contrary, most people say he will never play again, I know in my heart... Tiger Woods is a special man. He will come back and play the tournament again."

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    Australian golfer Smith turned in a bogey-free round at Harbour Town on Thursday for the lowest score of his PGA Tour career.

    The 2020 Masters runner-up birdied three of the last four holes, just missing an eagle at the last when his approach shot missed the hole by inches. 

    Smith finished with nine birdies in the opening round, tying his career record for most birdies in a single round on Tour.

    "Everything just came together," Smith told reporters. "It was a great day on the green. I was hitting my irons really good. I had lots of good looks, and I just took advantage of them."

    Smith's score matched the lowest opening round in tournament history, joining Davis Love III in 2002 and Peter Lonard three years later. 

    The 27-year-old has two career PGA Tour titles, the most recent in January 2020 at the Sony Open in Hawaii. 

    "I just feel really comfortable," Smith said. "Mentally I feel very free out there. I feel like I can hit the shot that I need to hit and going ahead and trying to execute it. I just feel like every shot I'm hitting, I'm putting 100 per cent into it, and on a day like today, it's really rewarding."

    Two-time champion Stewart Cink started early and was the clubhouse leader with a 63 before Smith's torrid closing stretch left him second on the leaderboard. 

    Cink's score on Thursday was the American veteran's best in 75 career rounds at Harbour Town. 

    "A round like this doesn't show you there is more out there," Cink said. "A round like this shows you what you're doing is already dead on, and why change anything?"

    Matt Wallace and Collin Morikawa are three shots back at six under, followed by Charles Howell III, Billy Horschel and Harold Varner III – who are a stroke further adrift.

    Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris shot a three-under-par 68, while world number one Dustin Johnson ended the day eight shots off the pace.

    Defending champion Webb Simpson opened his bid for back-to-back titles with a first-round 71, leaving him tied for 67th. 

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