Tiger Woods defies calls to retire after latest struggles at US PGA

Tiger Woods defies calls to retire after latest struggles at US PGA

Tiger Woods has vowed to “fight until the end” as a dispiriting performance at the 106th US PGA Championship prompted renewed calls for the 15-time major winner to retire.

The 48-year-old, who won this major at this Valhalla venue in 2000, missed the cut on seven-over, with his display in finishing 133rd in a 156-man field featuring 20 club pros perhaps best summed up by the two triple-bogey sevens he carded in three holes early in his second round.

fell six shots off the mark required to qualify for the weekend’s final two rounds and after he came last of those to make the cut at last month’s Masters, it was inevitable that social media would be filled with those pleading with Woods to call it a day.

There were experts within this chorus of disapproval, with Nick Bradley – formerly coach of, among others, Justin Rose, Sir Nick Faldo and Paul McGinley – concurring with Colin Moontgomerie’s verdict after the Masters. “I just wish Tiger had gone after he waved on that Swilken Bridge at St Andrews a couple of years ago,” Montgomerie told TalkSport last month. “He’s kept going, he thinks he can do it but it’s quite obvious now physically and mentally, that he can’t. There is a right time to go and there is a wrong time and I think he’s delaying it a little bit long now.”

Bradley drew a comparison, and a connection, with Muhammad Ali’s refusal to hang up his gloves in the early Eighties. “Ali was born in Kentucky and fought for another two years after he should have quit,” Bradley said. “Tiger Woods is in Kentucky… and needs to retire before his final bookend is seen as the same as Ali’s. There is no shame in realising that you’ve lost a step.”

The key difference is, of course, that Ali was putting his health in jeopardy by returning to the ring. No doubt, Woods’s body is battered after multiple back operations and the catastrophic injuries he suffered in a car crash three years ago that so almost cost him his right leg. But he is hardly risking his life by continuing.

It is Woods’s right to go out on his own terms and, at the moment, he insists that an exit is not imminent, despite his records sheet showing that in the seven official tournaments in which he has played since he was dragged from that wreckage in Los Angeles in February 2021, he has signed off in the final round just twice, with a best finish of 47th.

When asked why he keeps battling so hard, even in pursuit of a lost cause as the last 14 holes evidently were on Friday, Woods replied: “Just keep fighting. Keep the pedal on, keep fighting, keep grinding, keep working hard at posting the best score that I can possibly post. That’s all I can do. It’s going to be a lot [of work], but I’m going to fight until the end.”

‘I just need to play more’

There were actually positives for Woods to extract from Vahalla and not just the fact that he came so close to converting his first competitive hole in 27 years on the eighth. Woods drove it well and his fitness looked much improved than at Augusta.

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