Tiger Woods shoots 64 and ties for lead in Japan

Tiger Woods throws grass into the air on the 9th hole during the first round of the Zozo Championship PGA Tour in Japan on Thursday. (AP)
Updated 24 October 2019

Tiger Woods shoots 64 and ties for lead in Japan

  • Woods was tied with Gary Woodland, with local favorite Hideki Matsuyama one stroke behind

INZAI, Japan: Tiger Woods was in strong early-season form after a slow start with a 6-under 64 and was tied for the first-round lead at the Zozo Championship, the PGA Tour’s first tournament in Japan.

Woods was tied with Gary Woodland, with local favorite Hideki Matsuyama one stroke behind.

Teeing off the from the 10th hole, Woods got off to a shaky start on Thursday with three straight bogeys at the par-70 Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club.

“It’s always nice to get off to a quick start and figure it out from there,” Woods said. “The start I got off to wasn’t very good, I hit bad shot after bad shot ... and the next thing you know, things aren’t looking so good.”

But the Masters champion quickly found his game, making birdies on four of his next six holes to get to 1-under, two strokes behind with nine holes to play.

“After the start, the ball striking was better, the putting was really good,” Woods said. “I was hitting a lot of good putts, the ball was rolling tight which was nice.”

Woods is making his first start in his 23rd season on the PGA Tour, needing one victory to reach 82 wins and tie the career record held by Sam Snead. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee two months ago — his fifth on the same problem spot.

Woods last played in an official tournament in Japan in 2006 at the Dunlop Phoenix, where he lost in a playoff to Padraig Harrington. He won the Dunlop Phoenix the two previous years.

“The people here in Japan and have come out and supported this event,” Woods said. “It’s been a lot of fun to play in front of them again, I haven’t done it in a while. I’ve missed it. They’ve always been fantastic with golf and supported their golf here.”

The Zozo tournament is part of three tournaments that make up the PGA Tour’s Asia Swing, including the CJ Cup in South Korea won last week by Justin Thomas and the HSBC Champions in Shanghai next week.

Organizers said there were over 20,000 fans in attendance on the opening day.

Heavy rain from a storm over the Pacific Ocean is expected on Friday.


Muslim player Sonny Bill Williams ‘to refuse to wear’ Super League gambling logo on shirt

Updated 23 January 2020

Muslim player Sonny Bill Williams ‘to refuse to wear’ Super League gambling logo on shirt

  • The 34-year-old New Zealander converted to Islam in 2009
  • Gambling firm Betfred have sponsored rugby league competition Super League since 2017

LONDON: Rugby superstar Sonny Bill Williams is set to refuse to wear the logo of Super League sponsor Betfred due to his religious beliefs, Toronto Wolfpack chairman Bob Hunter said.
The 34-year-old New Zealander, who switched codes for the second time following last year’s rugby union World Cup in Japan, converted to Islam in 2009.
Gambling firm Betfred have sponsored rugby league competition Super League since 2017 and last year agreed a two-year contract extension.
“We’re in discussions with Super League about this, but Sonny has been very clear in his stance on the matter,” Hunter told the Daily Telegraph.
“I think Betfred will benefit by taking the position that we respect and honor the player’s religious beliefs.
“In today’s society there are some very sensitive issues but I think the sponsor can say ‘yes, OK, we understand this. He’s a big brand and big name but we get it’.”
In 2017, Williams covered up a Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) logo on his Auckland Blues shirt.
It later emerged that he was exercising a “conscientious objection” clause in his contract, telling New Zealand Rugby he did not want to wear the logos of banks, alcohol brands or gambling sponsors.
Williams initially switched from league to union in 2008 and won back-to-back World Cups, earning 58 caps for the All Blacks. He has also tried his hand at boxing.
The former All Black is reportedly the highest-paid player in either code of rugby after signing a two-year deal at the Canadian club and Hunter said he had been given shares in the club as part of his package.
Hunter said Toronto were already starting to cash in on their big-name recruit before he had even played a competitive match.
“The fan interest just generally and the amount of media attention which helps you sell everything has been tremendous,” he said.
“A lot of my friends don’t understand rugby league and are not Wolfpack fans yet say ‘but I heard you signed this really big player, the LeBron James of rugby league’.
“Our season subscriptions have gone up about 30 percent and our sponsorship dollars are up 35 and it could (be) 40 percent by the end of the year.”
Toronto kick off their Super League campaign on February 2 against Castleford Tigers.
They will play a number of their early “home” matches in Britain due to the harsh Canadian winter. Their first game in Toronto will be in April.