Tiger Woods conceded he was not as sharp as he needed to be during round one of the US Open on Thursday.

The 15-time major winner carded a four-over 74 at Pinehurst No 2, leaving him nine shots adrift of co-leaders Patrick Cantlay and Rory McIlroy.

Woods is making just a third start of the season as he focuses on being able to stay healthy for the majors but the 48-year-old acknowledged that is affecting his ability to compete.

In quotes reported by Sky Sports, he said: "I didn't hit my irons particularly well. Didn't putt that great. Drove it on the string all day, just unfortunately I just didn't capitalise on it.

"I was somewhat conservative in some of my end points. Then again, I didn't hit the ball very well either, so it added up to quite a bit of distance away from the flag. It's not where I wanted to be on a lot of the holes. It just ended up being that far away because I wasn't as sharp as I needed to be."

"I'm physically getting better as the year has gone on. I just haven't been able to play as much because I just don't want to hurt myself pre (majors), then I won't be able to play in the major championships.

"It's pick your poison, right? Play a lot with the potential of not playing, or not playing and fight being not as sharp."

Rory McIlroy still harbours hopes of an elusive fifth major title as the US Open awaits at Pinehurst's famed Number Two course in North Carolina.

The Northern Irishman will start the tournament on Friday aiming to end a decade-long wait for another major crown.

McIlroy has won three times this year, defending his Hero Dubai Desert Classic title on the DP World Tour before consecutive PGA Tour victories at the Zurich Classic and Wells Fargo Championship.

The world number three has not tasted major success since his PGA Championship glory back in 2014, but McIlroy believes further joy on the biggest golfing stage could be on the cards this week.

"I've always said I still feel like being the most successful European in the game is within my reach," McIlroy said in his pre-tournament press conference.

"I've got obviously Seve [Ballesteros] and Nick Faldo to pass there in terms of major wins.

"I'm really proud of my body of work over the past 15 years and everything that I have achieved, whether it be season-long titles or individual tournaments or majors.

"Getting my hands on a fifth major has taken quite a while, but I'm more confident than ever that I'm right there, that I'm as close as I've ever been."

Despite enjoying consistent success in various PGA Tour and DP World Tour competitions, major success has remained a challenge for the 35-year-old since his one-shot victory at Valhalla 10 years ago.

McIlroy finished tied for 22nd and 12th at the first two majors this year, The Masters and PGA Championship respectively.

Therefore, the four-time major winner refused to put a target on how many such victories he continues to aim for.

"I wouldn't say I have a particular number of wins [as a target]," he added. "I think the only thing about trying to pick a number is that you're setting yourself up for failure or disappointment.

"Tiger [Woods] wanted to surpass Jack [Nicklaus]. It looks like he might not get there, but are we going to call Tiger's career a failure? Absolutely not. It's arguably the best. He's played the best golf anyone's ever seen.

"There's always going to be that tinge of what could have been. I don't want to do that to myself. If someone had told me at 20 years old I'd be sitting here at 35 and this is the career I've had, I would not have believed them and I would have been ecstatic.

"I still have a good little bit of time here, hopefully for the next 10 years. I still like to think I've got a good run ahead of me.

"Whatever those numbers are, whatever the totals add up to, I'll accept that and feel like I've done pretty well for a little boy from Northern Ireland who dreamed of playing golf for a living one day."

Andrew 'Beef' Johnston believes an Indian Premier League-style draft would make the LIV Tour more exciting and appealing following its merger with the PGA Tour.

In a contentious move earlier in June, the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Tour were merged, with all three now backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Johnston now wants to see improvements made to the sport, and one suggestion he has would be the introduction of a draft system for the LIV Teams.

Speaking to Stats Perform on behalf of the Beef's Golf Club podcast, Johnston pointed to the success that the IPL cricket competition has enjoyed using a similar formula.

"I'd like to see a kind of IPL draft. They have the franchises and then they do the draft, don't they? So, I'd love to see that," he said.

"Golf going into almost that kind of situation where the PGA and DP [Tours] play up until the end of July, and there's a big draft for the LIV [competitions].

"So, no one knows what team they're going to be on. You're going to have captains for that team, but no one really knows who they're going to be playing for and then go into a big team shoot-out for a few months, and I think that'd be a really good way to work it.

"I don't think it happens but in my perfect world, I'd love to see that happen."

LIV Golf caused much controversy after its emergence in 2022, with plenty of big names heading over to the rival tour.

"It'd be interesting if there's another one that comes up in a year's time - you never know, you can never say never, look what's happened," said Johnston when asked if the merger would prevent any other rival tours from emerging.

"You've seen it with cricket with the IPL and now there's loads of T20 leagues knocking around all over the world. So, you can never say never.

"Hopefully, now these three can settle down and build something good. And as a player, I want to be able to step off on that first tee knowing that if I play well, you can have a lot of crazy opportunities.

"If you do so, I don't think it's bad for the players. I think it's good for golf, that we're out of this crazy standoff.

"The standoff was not healthy for golf. So, we can move on."

Johnston added that some players may struggle to trust the tours after the move.

He said: "I think a lot of players are going to struggle with trust. And I think the whole thing that's quite interesting is generally the PGA Tour and DP Tour are built on the fact that the players own that, so we have control.

"Now, literally, we have zero control. And you've seen that the players don't have an actual say in it, not even Rory [McIlroy] or Tiger [Woods].

"You look at the football players who play for [PIF-backed] Newcastle [United], we're in the same situation now. So, I think the players should be freed up of any questions. We're supposed to have a say, and we don't."

Search for 'Beef's Golf Club' to hear Beef's full podcast.
Instagram: @beefsgolfclub

The merger of the PGA Tour with Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf will help preserve the Ryder Cup.

That is the view of Andrew 'Beef' Johnston, who was speaking to Stats Perform on behalf of the Beef's Golf Club podcast.

It was announced last week that the PGA Tour and DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour) had merged with LIV Tour's backers – Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF).

While the merger has left high-profile players like Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm in difficult positions, Johnston does believe the move will help save golf's flagship team competition.

Players who had left for LIV Golf were set to be barred from competing in the Ryder Cup, which takes place in Rome in September and early October.

"Yeah 100 per cent [it's saved the Ryder Cup]," he said. 

"You want to see the best players go head to head, 100 per cent. The best players of their time you want to see playing, that's what makes great Ryder Cups, when you've got the best players and if you're missing certain players, I don't think it's ideal.

"On the flip side, there's always going to be players coming up, the new generation and there are great players no matter what happens.

"So, I always thought the Ryder Cup would be in safe hands, but it's better that everyone can play."

As for welcoming LIV rebels back onto the PGA and DP World Tours, Johnston has few issues.

"Yeah, I have never been fussed at all," he added.

"I know there's been some players unhappy about them going, a few have been a bit awkward about it. I'm not too sure exactly who it was or why it was or whatever reason. But I still keep in touch with a couple of them.

"You've got to do what you've got to do. You're not doing anything terrible. The whole moral situation I found quite interesting from the start and the PGA Tour and DP Tour were saying it's morally wrong to go. But we already played in Saudi a few years ago. So, I found that a bit funny.

"We're self-employed. If you get that opportunity, go, and take it. What I didn't quite understand were some of the guys trying to come back and play on the DP Tour.

"If they've signed the full contract to go and play on LIV, my perspective would have been: 'Alright, I'm gonna move over to LIV Golf, sign on for a lot of money. I'm going to go and play the 16 events, enjoy my time off with family or whatever I want to do'.

"I'd personally go and BBQ a lot and hang out with my mates. But that's their choice again and everyone's got their choice. I don't think we should be saying: 'Oh, you can't come back. You can't come and do this'. I'm not really fussed [about them doing that]."

Search for 'Beef's Golf Club' to hear Beef's full podcast.

Instagram: @beefsgolfclub"

Andrew 'Beef' Johnston feels Rory McIlroy "wasted a lot of energy" in his staunch support of the PGA Tour.

McIlroy was one of the biggest opponents of the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series, which lured huge names from the PGA Tour, including Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith and Bryson DeChambeau.

Yet in a shocking turn of events this week, it was announced that the PGA Tour and DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour) had merged with LIV Tour's backers – Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF).

That has left McIlroy, who said he still "hates LIV" in an awkward position, and Johnston feels the world number three has expended unnecessary energy defending the PGA Tour.

"Potentially, I think in some respect it could help him because I think he's just going to turn around and say, 'Alright, I'm going to concentrate and I'm going to do me'," said Johnston in an interview with Stats Perform.

"And that's what he should [do]. I've kind of been hoping Rory would do that. He shouldn't have to get involved and back the PGA Tour as hard as he has.

"I think he's wasted a lot of energy on that and I'd love to just see him focus on golf and pick up more titles and more majors because he's one of the best golfers we've seen.

"I just want to see him concentrate on his golf. So hopefully he gets through this meeting and he just goes, 'Do you know what I'm looking forward, just let it be.' And he can crack on. I'd like to see him do that, to be honest."

Reflecting on the news, Johnston said: "It's just insane. It's nuts. For what, two years, it's been so far away from that, so far away from doing that.

"I think I was talking about it a week ago or so. I said 'There's never ever going to be a deal because there's lawsuits going on and everything's kicking off, and no one will budge at all'. And all of a sudden, bang! That news comes out of the blue. And when I mean out of the blue, I don't think anyone knew.

"I don't even think Tiger [Woods] or Rory knew. I mean if they don't know that none of us are going to know."

Asked if it was a positive step for the sport, Johnston said: "It depends how they format it.

"If they format it where a player can tee up on any of the three tours knowing that if I have a good couple of seasons I can get into the Ryder Cup, I could get into LIV or however they're going to format the tournaments, and there's a way that you could be rewarded for playing good golf and getting into these high money bonus events, which I'm sure is going to happen, then great.

"There's going to be a lot of unhappy people and a lot of unhappy players right now. My first thoughts are people who have backed the tour, like Rory and Jon Rahm, people like that, and they've turned down a hell of a lot of money.

"They really propped the Tour and backed the Tour only to be sort of stabbed in the back. Absolutely blindsided by this. I can't imagine how they're feeling, they've got to be absolutely fuming about it."

Search for 'Beef’s Golf Club' to hear Beef’s full podcast.

Instagram: @beefsgolfclub

Pablo Larrazabal was left astonished at beating a field of youthful and more powerful hitters after an "unbelievable" win at the Korea Championship on Sunday.

The Spaniard claimed his eighth DP World Tour title after managing four birdies in five holes on the back nine, carding a final-round 67 to finish 12 under par.

Dane Marcus Helligkilde signed for a fourth-round 68 to finish in second on ten under, one clear of Park Sang-hyun, Jorge Campillo, Joost Luiten and Scott Jamieson.

Just a couple of weeks before his 40th birthday, Larrazabal could not hide his amazement at overcoming the field at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea.

He said: "It's amazing. In two weeks I'm turning 40. I'm not a long-hitter. To play against all these 20-year-old guys now that hit the ball 40 yards over me, and to beat them is unbelievable. 

"To do it here in Korea, where we have not come for ten years and where I love to play. Now it's one of my favourite places in the world. 

"I will be back to Korea to defend this title and hopefully many more times."

Larrazabal suggested the celebrations will continue into next weekend, albeit for different reasons before preparing for the final tournaments of the season.

He added: "My older brother is getting married on Saturday. I don't know if I'll bring the trophy to the wedding but I'm sure we’ll celebrate 95 per cent his wedding.

"A couple – not too many – of drinks celebrating my title. It's my birthday the week after and then flying to the U.S. PGA Championship in Rochester, New York.

"Seven out of nine weeks on mainland Europe finishing at The Open, and then holiday time."

Phil Mickelson expects the four majors to find a way to include the cream of LIV Golf talent even if ranking system chiefs refuse to award points to the breakaway series.

LIV bosses are pushing for the official world golf rankings (OWGR) to award points for its events, but that has yet to come about.

There is no guarantee the situation will change, but Mickelson cannot see how it is in anyone's interest for the majors, golf's pinnacle events, to exclude some of the sport's biggest stars.

His LIV Golf colleague Bryson DeChambeau labelled the rankings "almost obsolete" when he spoke this week in Singapore. He has slipped from inside the top 30 to 178th since committing to LIV, where lucrative sign-up fees and prize money have drawn a host of golf's elite players.

Mickelson and Brooks Koepka, who both defected from the PGA Tour to LIV, finished tied for second at the recent Masters.

Sharp dips in ranking status could mean LIV stars are frozen out from the majors, but there seems likely to be an arrangement reached.

Reflecting on the sport's showpiece occasions and future prospects for LIV players, Mickelson said: "It's going to all iron itself out because if you're one of the majors, if you're the Masters, you're not looking at we should keep these guys out.

"You're saying to yourself, we want to have the best field, we want to have the best players, and these guys added a lot to the tournament this year at the Masters. How do we get them included?

"We have to come up with a qualifying mechanism that is inclusive, and if the world golf ranking isn't going to be inclusive, then they have to find another way.

"Maybe they take the top five or top 10 or winners of LIV, but they're going to have to find a way to get the best LIV players in their field if they want to have the best field in golf and be really what major championship is about. So they're already looking at that.

"If the world golf rankings doesn't find a way to be inclusive, then the majors will just find another way to include LIV because it's no longer a credible way.

"So it will all iron itself out for the simple reason that it's in the best interest of everybody, especially the tournaments, the majors, to have the best players."

The US PGA Championship is coming up in May, followed by the U.S. Open in June and the Open Championship in July.

Meanwhile, the Singapore leg of the controversial, Saudi-backed LIV series begins on Friday.

DeChambeau, a former winner of the U.S. Open, has little time for the ranking system as it stands.

"You should realise that the OWGR is not accurate, one," he said. "Two, I think that they need to come to a resolution, or it will become obsolete. It's pretty much almost obsolete as of right now.

"But again, if the majors and everything continue to have that as their ranking system, then they are biting it quite heavily."

Greg Norman has hinted at a women's series being introduced by LIV Golf.

Norman, chief executive officer of LIV Golf, confirmed he has had discussions with players from various tours to gauge interest, and said there has been plenty of it.

The Saudi Arabia-backed tour began a men's series last year, with the inaugural event taking place in London, with high-profile players such as Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Cameron Smith and Bryson DeChambeau leaving the PGA Tour to take part.

"[A women's tour] is a discussion we have internally on a regular basis," Norman said ahead of LIV Golf's first Australia-based event in Adelaide.

"I have personally had discussions with individual LPGA Tour players, LET Tour players, Ladies European Tour. They love what our product is showcasing. They ask all the time, 'How can we get involved?' We'd love to see a LIV ladies series."

The creation of LIV Golf caused a rivalry to develop in the sport between it and the PGA and DP World Tours, with the latter recently winning a legal battle against members who played in LIV Golf tournaments over a dispute around imposing fines for playing in competing events.

Much of the controversy stems from being backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, but Norman said it is not his job to question the human rights record of the Saudi government.

"Why not? Because I am the chairman and CEO of LIV Golf Investments, and that's where I focus, I focus on golf, I stay focused on golf," he said.

"My job is to build out LIV and the product and the platform we have on the global front.

"Golf is a force for good. I've built golf courses in third-world countries, in communist countries. So golf is a force for good, it goes everywhere with the right platform."

The DP World Tour has won its legal battle against members who played in LIV Golf tournaments over a dispute around imposing fines for playing in competing events.

Independent arbiter Sport Resolutions announced on Thursday it had upheld the DP World Tour's decision to punish players who competed in the inaugural tournament run by LIV Golf without a release being granted by the PGA European Tour for the conflicting event.

Fines of £100,000 were handed out to those who chose to compete for LIV Golf, which was initially appealed by the trio of Ian Poulter, Adrian Otaegui and Justin Harding in July last year.

They were later joined by 13 others, though Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Otaegui withdrew their appeals in January.

However, Sport Resolutions confirmed: "The appeal panel ultimately found that the appellants committed serious breaches of the Code of Behaviour of the DP World Tour Regulations by playing in the LIV Golf Invitational (London) and LIV Portland events respectively, despite their release requests having been refused.

"The appeals were dismissed and each of the appellants were ordered to pay the fine of £100,000 originally imposed by the PGA European Tour."

The DP World Tour's chief executive, Keith Pelley, said in a statement: "We welcome today's decision by Sport Resolutions which upholds our regulations and our ability to administer them.

"We are delighted that the panel recognised we have a responsibility to our full membership to do this and also determined that the process we followed was fair and proportionate.

"In deciding the level of these sanctions last June, we were simply administering the regulations which were created by our members and which each of them signed up to.

"It is, of course, regrettable that resources, both financial and staffing, which could have been otherwise deployed across our organisation, have been impacted by this lengthy arbitration process.

"However, with the clarity provided by today's decision, we look forward to continuing to focus on our 2023 global schedule, whilst also continuing to plan for 2024 with the valued support of our many partners and stakeholders.

"We will now carefully consider the details of today's decision with our board, our tournament committee and our legal advisors and take the appropriate action in due course."

Justin Thomas is prepared for business as usual at The Masters with little interest in the contentious inclusion of LIV Golf International Series players in Augusta.

The world number 10 will be joined by 17 LIV Golf stars at the Augusta National Golf Course, with six of those rebel golfers automatically qualifying via a lifetime exemption after winning the tournament.

Majors are the only tournaments the two sets of golfers can feature in after the PGA Tour banned those who joined the Saudi-backed rebel series for record purses and 54-hole events.

The DP World Tour also acted to punish the breakaway stars, with £100,000 fines and potential suspensions for those playing in LIV events and opting out of the European competition.

A report from The Times on Tuesday claimed the DP World Tour will win its ongoing court case against the 13 LIV golfers appealing those sanctions, but Thomas is focused on his own matters in Georgia.

"I haven't really talked to any of them," Thomas said at a pre-tournament press conference.

"I don't know if it's just been coincidence or I've had the blinders on, but it's just been business. I'm just trying to take care of myself and I'm not worried about what they're doing."

Thomas' best Masters finish came when he battled to fourth in 2020, while the American tied for eighth in his most recent appearance last year.

Ahead of the start of the tournament on Thursday, Thomas is aiming to take a more casual approach in search of his third major title – having won the PGA Championship in 2017 and 2022.

"I can definitely want something too much," he continued. "I've wanted to win this tournament too much in the past.

"I've wanted to be world number one too badly, I've wanted to win golf tournaments too badly – it's a fine line.

"It's a learning process and I'm starting to learn a bit more. I'd love to be world number one and win tournaments, and not have to figure it out the tough way.

"But there is a lot of good that can come out of some negative experiences if you choose to look at it that way."

Thomas will play with Jon Rahm and Cameron Young in his first round, with that three-ball line-up teeing off at 10:42am local time.

Nick Bachem claimed his maiden DP World Tour title courtesy of a brilliant blemish-free final round at the Jonsson Workwear Open on Sunday.   The 23-year-old German won by a commanding four-shot margin courtesy of a closing eight-under 64 at The Club at Steyn City.   Bachem was playing on the Pro Golf Tour only two years ago and celebrated the biggest victory of his fledgling career in Johannesburg, where he finished the week on 24 under.   The leader after two rounds, Bachem went into the final day in a share of second place behind Swede Joakim Lagergren and claimed the title in only his 12th DP World Tour start. He went out in 32 after making birdies at four of the first six holes before picking up further strokes at the 10th and 11th.   The composed Bachem also made gains at 14 and 17 to give himself breathing space, with Hennie du Plessis and Zander Lombard in a share of second place on 20 under.   Lombard finished with a 65 in his homeland, while Du Plessis carded a 68.   Lagergren birdied two of the opening three holes, but lost his way and finished in sixth spot after signing for a two-under 70.      

Jorge Campillo secured victory at the Kenya Open with a smooth final round of 66 on Sunday, his first DP World Tour win since the 2020 Qatar Masters.

The overnight leader following his impressive 63 on Saturday started well again, carding five birdies over his first 10 holes.

A bogey at the 11th was the Spaniard's first dropped shot in 38 holes, but six pars and a birdie from his final seven allowed Campillo to claim the title by two shots, finishing on 18 under par.

"[I feel] very good, it's always nice to win. To be able to close it off is a nice feeling," he said after sealing victory.

The 36-year-old follows the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam and Trevor Immelman in winning the Kenya Open, and he was typically humble when asked how it felt to be among those figures.

"It's hard to put my name under those names, you know," Campillo said. "I am from the little town I am from. I'm very proud, it's always nice to win a golf tournament but to have the name on the same trophy as Seve is obviously more special for Spain."

Masahiro Kawamura secured outright second with a birdie at the 18th to finish on 16 under, also following a trend among the leading pack by recording a final round of 66, with five of the top six doing so.

Santiago Tarrio and Ryo Hisatsune claimed joint-third on 15 under, while Lukas Nemecz and Borja Virto finished tied for fifth one shot further back.

Scotland's Robert MacIntyre fell away from contention with his round of 70, starting the day in second place but ultimately having to settle for joint-seventh on 13 under.

The best rounds on Sunday came from Dutchman Darius van Driel and South Africa's Shaun Norris, who both carded eight-under rounds of 63 to finish tied for 11th and 20th respectively.

Marcel Siem pipped Yannik Paul to the Indian Open title as a brilliant four-under-par final round clinched victory on Sunday.

Paul headed into the third round on Saturday with a five-shot lead, but a troublesome day three saw his advantage cut to just one at the top of the standings.

Despite Paul steadying himself with a two-under final round to finish on 13 under, it was fellow German Siem who roared to victory with five birdies to reach 14 under and secure his first win on the DP World Tour since 2014.

Dutchman Joost Luiten finished a shot behind Paul in third, while Jorge Campillo and Kazuki Higa shot final rounds of three under and four under respectively to be tied for fourth.

An excellent day four for Alexander Knappe propelled him up to joint-sixth, managing two eagles in a six-under-par final round to leave him level with Thorbjorn Olsen.

Veer Ahlawat and Shubhankar Sharma were the best of the home favourites, both finishing strongly to be among a group of players on four under.

Speaking after his victory, Siem said: "This means a lot because two years ago I wasn't even sure if I could still compete on the European Tour, and now I'm a winner again."

Thorbjorn Olesen won his second DP World Title in the space of a year after carding a bogey-free 66 final round at the Thailand Classic.

Olesen, whose victory at the British Masters in May 2022 had ended a four-year wait for a win, won by a comfortable four strokes having taken a two-shot lead into the final day.

The 33-year-old finished at 24 under for the tournament as he collected the seventh DP World Tour title of his career.

Olesen, who will move back into the top 100 next week, has gone on to win six tournaments on the Tour when holding a 54-hole lead.

"It's very special. Obviously the British Masters win was incredible, with my family, and it had been a long time since I won the last time," said the Dane after claiming his first title in Asia.

"But equally this one, all the hard work and all the sacrifice from my wife. It's really nice.

"It felt really good, felt steady, I felt like I was in control and I just enjoyed playing golf."

Olesen's compatriot Oliver Hundeboll, meanwhile, played the shot of the round as he sunk a hole-in-one on the 13th.

Alexander Knappe carded a brilliant 67 after seven birdies from his final nine holes, with the German finishing T3 along with Joost Luiten, two shots back from second-place Yannik Paul.

Ockie Strydom shot a stunning nine-under round of 63 to seal victory in the Singapore Classic by one stroke on Sunday.

The South African's final round was the best score of the day at the Laguna National Golf Resort Club and propelled him to top spot ahead of Sami Valimaki of Finland.

The victory is Strydom's second on the DP World Tour after he claimed the Alfred Dunhill Championship on home soil in December.

"It's my mindset that's changing at the moment," he said. "When you've been in that situation before you know you can do it again.

"I was thinking of not being here this week as I was hitting it so badly. My coach and wife said 'maybe it's your week' and look what happened, it was my week!"

Joint leaders after the third round, Wang Jeung-hun and Alejandro del Rey, finished in a tie for third with Marcel Schneider, four shots back from Strydom.

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