‘Walking miracle’ Tiger Woods talks down his Masters hopes as Augusta hype grows

Tiger Woods’ return from injury has stunned rivals, fans and even the player himself. He heads to the US Masters as one of the favorites to claim the famous Green Jacket. (Getty Images)
Updated 05 April 2018
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‘Walking miracle’ Tiger Woods talks down his Masters hopes as Augusta hype grows

  • Tiger Woods can break a 10-year Major drought with Masters victory
  • Woods has undergone four back surgeries since DUI arrest
London: Tiger Woods has played down expectations he will break his 10-year Major duck with victory at the US Masters on Sunday.
The big beast has confounded all expectations by not only turning up at Augusta, but also appearing as one of the favorites.
Last year Woods underwent a fourth surgery on his back and was later arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence when he was discovered asleep at the wheel of his car — he was found to have five prescription drugs in his system and pleaded guilty to reckless driving.
After his police mugshot was seen around the world, it was feared Woods would never be a force again.
Just four months into his comeback, however, the American has recorded consecutive top-five finishes and is viewed as a firm favorite to claim a fifth Green Jacket, a feat Woods sought to play down.
“I don’t think there is one clear-cut favorite,” the 42-year-old said.
“I think there are so many guys playing well at the same time. That’s what is making this year’s Masters so exciting. There are guys from the early 20s to Phil at 47 who have all played well.
“We know we’re going to have to play well in order to win, and it’s going to be quite a challenge. It’s going to be fun.”
One of the biggest surprises about Woods’ comeback has been his swing speed. Just months after the back-fusion operation, he is swinging the club quicker than most of his rivals. With that has come a return of the old swagger that thrilled fans and scared opponents, an aura not seen since his last Major victory back in 2008.
“For some reason, I don’t have any pain,” he said. “Yes, I’m much tighter and I have to work on strength in different ways, but I’m hitting speeds I hit in my prime.
“The reason I said I’m a walking miracle is because I don’t know anyone who has had a lower back fusion that can swing the club as fast as I can. Some of the guys have said: ‘I need to fuse my back so I can hit it harder.”
While Woods was keen dampen expectations he might win, his rivals were less so. One favorite who is not ruling out a Woods renaissance at Augusta is Rory McIlroy, who said: “He has a great chance. Look at how he has played the ast few weeks. He has had four wins here. Any time Woods is healthy and in this sort of form, he is dangerous at any tournament. But given his history here, I think even more so.”
Meanwhile, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson is confident he can get over his missed Masters last year. The American was hot favorite to win 12 months ago, but a back injury sustained in a fall the day before the first round stopped him making the first tee.
“I am going to take it really easy. (The accident) was kind of a freak thing and it happened, there is nothing I can do about it except I’m here this year,” he said. “Hopefully, I can tee it up on Thursday, and I will definitely be looking forward to that.”


Man City humbled in 2-1 loss to Lyon in Champions League

City were humbled by French side Lyon in Manchester. (Reuters)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Man City humbled in 2-1 loss to Lyon in Champions League

  • City’s players were humbled 2-1 by Lyon in a sloppy and apathetic display at the start of their European campaign

MANCHESTER, England: If Manchester City wants to finally win a first Champions League title, it will have to start taking the competition a bit more seriously — on and off the field.
Surrounded by swathes of empty seats in the Etihad Stadium, City’s players were humbled 2-1 by Lyon in a sloppy and apathetic display at the start of their European campaign on Wednesday.
Banned from the touchline and unable to communicate with the bench, City manager Pep Guardiola did fill one seat in the stands and he saw his Premier League champions easily picked apart by the French visitors.
“We felt under threat every time we lost the ball and sometimes that brings the confidence a little bit lower,” said City assistant manager Mikel Arteta, who was in charge on the bench in Guardiola’s absence.
Errors by midfielder Fernandinho led to both Lyon goals, typifying how careless City was against a team that finished third in the French league last season and was even held to a draw at the weekend by 10-man Caen.
When a pass by the Brazilian midfielder was intercepted around the halfway line, Lyon charged forward. Nabil Fekir sent in a cross from the left that evaded Fabian Delph’s swinging legs, allowing Maxwel Cornet to slot it home in the 26th minute. Delph held his head in his hands as the consequences of his mistake became clear.
City’s troubles deepened when Fernandinho was caught in possession again. Memphis Depay set Fekir on a run and the forward doubled Lyon’s lead in the 43rd by striking through the legs of John Stones.
“It was a difficult game,” said Depay, who struggled to make an impact at Manchester United before leaving after two seasons in 2017. “But when we had the ball we tried to play and when we won the ball we tried to counterattack.”
Perhaps the only reason for City to feel aggrieved in the first half was Gabriel Jesus being denied a penalty when he was tripped by former Manchester United defender Rafael da Silva just before Depay scored.
“To concede two goals like we did is very frustrating,” Stones said. “We came in at halftime a bit deflated I think. But we picked ourselves up and we came out second half fighting and played a better second half.”
But the improvement wasn’t sufficient.
City pulled one back in the 67th when Bernardo Silva scored from substitute Leroy Sane’s cutback. But the attacking threat was too patchy from a City side that won the Premier League with a record 100 points only four months ago, and are widely seen as one of the big favorites in this season’s Champions League.
“I suffered as I was scared they’d score a second goal,” Lyon coach Bruno Genesio said. “We would have taken 2-2 before the match but given the way the game went we’d have been disappointed not to leave with the three points.”
With Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk also in Group F, City appeared to have one of the kinder draws but is now playing catch-up.
Celebrating a decade under Abu Dhabi ownership, which allowed City to assemble a squad for more than $1 billion, the Champions League is the one big prize the club has yet to win.
But City fans still have a fraught relationship with Europe’s premier competition.