Illness-hit Tiger Woods leads Turkish Airlines Open pack

Illness-hit Tiger Woods leads Turkish Airlines Open pack

ISTANBUL - Reuters
Illness-hit Tiger Woods leads Turkish Airlines Open pack

US golfer Tiger Woods has played with head of Turkish Golf Federation, Ahmet Ağaoğlu, and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chairman, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, in Antalya, one day ahead of Turkish Airlines Open. DHA Photo

World number one Tiger Woods will have to overcome an illness if he is to challenge for the first prize of 848,930 euros at this week’s Turkish Airlines Open.

The 14-time major champion is back in action at the European Tour event in Antalya on the Mediterranean coast after taking a much-needed four-week break from competitive golf.

Unfortunately, though, he picked up a bug from one of his children while he was away from the spotlight.

“My [six-year-old] daughter Sam was sick and it’s just the way it goes,” said a bunged-up Woods as he coughed and sniffed his way through an interview with Reuters.

“Kids get sick, you get sick and you’ve just got to deal with it. I’ve done it for years now so it’s no big deal.

“I feel good though. Energy-wise I feel great, I just don’t sound the same.”

Woods certainly looked in tip-top shape on Nov. 5 as he became the first golfer to hit balls from east to west off the Bosphorus Bridge.

The 37-year-old struck several shots from the iconic structure that connects Asia to Europe in a special Istanbul photoshoot.

“To be the first golfer to do this was very cool,” said Woods. “To see the Bosphorus for the first time was a memorable experience.”

Traffic was stopped for 20 minutes on one half of the bridge and the American had to make sure he was especially straight with his ball-striking in order to avoid the vehicles coming down the opposite side.

Woods has not played competitively since the biennial Presidents Cup match between the United States and the Internationals in Ohio at the start of October.

“I didn’t touch a club for almost two weeks,” he told Reuters. “I shut it down, got away from it, put the clubs in storage and just hung out with the kids.

“I trained in the gym but I didn’t want to have anything to do with golf for a while. We’ve played so much since the British Open in July with World Golf Championship events, the U.S. PGA Championship, the FedExCup series and then the Presidents Cup.

Tired of golf

“There’s been a lot of golf and I was tired of it so I put the clubs away to get refreshed and ready for my last two tournaments of the season,” he added, referring to the Turkish Open and his own World Challenge event in California next month.

Woods possesses a voracious appetite for trophies, having chalked up 79 U.S. PGA Tour victories in a remarkable career, but he finds it impossible to play golf every day of the year.

“I have to take a break. Some players can play each and every day, like Arnold Palmer,” he explained.
“I love practising but as far as going out there and playing every day, no.

“I think it’s more important to have the mind sharp and ready and to feel fresh and excited. You see a lot of players go fishing, go on vacation, they don’t take their clubs and just get away from it and take a step back and then tend to do well.”

Good year behind

Woods has had a brilliant 2013 campaign, winning five times on the U.S. PGA Tour to earn the Player of the Year award for a record 11th time.

However, his 15th major victory has eluded him for the fifth season in a row as he strives to equal fellow countryman Jack Nicklaus’s record haul of 18.

“I’d have liked five wins this year and for four to be in majors,” Woods said with a broad grin. “That would have been nice.

“But I guess you’re not going to win every single major you tee it up in. I’ve won 14 and there’s only one person who has won more than me.

“It’s hard to win those events. The fields are so deep now and they are played in the most demanding conditions we play in all year,” Woods told Reuters.

“You need to have everything go your way at the right time. I’ve had everything go my way 14 times.
“I’ve been in contention with a chance to win on Sundays a couple of times in majors this year and just haven’t got it done but hopefully it will happen again soon.”