Tiger on schedule, but Els withdraws from Johnnie Walker


Tiger Woods, the world’s number one golfer, will arrive in Bangkok for this week’s US$1.3 million Johnnie Walker Classic on Tuesday morning, a tournament spokesman said Monday. Woods, who tied for fifth place in the World Golf Championships in Valderrama, Spain, on Sunday is the undoubted star attraction at the tournament at the Alpine Golf and Sports Club which starts Thursday. Ernie Els and Lee Westwood, two of the leading players in the star-studded field, have withdrawn, said Paul Choong, an executive with Riche Monde, the Johnnie Walker distributor in the country. Els, the world number two from South Africa, pulled out of the Valderrama tournament with a recurring back injury. He said he was confident a few days rest would put him back in playing form, but has been advised by an orthopaedic specialist not to play for the next three weeks. Westwood’s wife Laurae is expecting their first child soon and he wants to be near her. Other leading players from the European, Australasian and Asian PGA Tours will be teeing it up on Thursday morning in what will surely be the most impressive tournament line-up ever to compete in the kingdom. They include Nick Faldo, the winner of six major championships, Sergio Garcia the young Spanish sensation, Michael Campbell the defending champion, and Swedish star Jesper Parnevik. Tiger prowls around London park

Tiger Woods brought golf to a central London park on Monday when he wowed crowds with the skills that have made him world number one.

Around 5,000 people came to Hyde Park to see the American, who finished joint fifth at the Valderrama Championship at the weekend, play his first golf in the capital.

“I hope this green’s better than the 17th at Valderrama,” he joked as he looked out on to the specially-constructed course. Woods has come to grief in the water hazard at the 17th in four of his last five rounds.

In a 50 minute exhibition, Woods drove shots centimetres wide of cameramen, hit flags 300 metres away and bounced balls off speakers and into the crowd.

For his finale he played “keepy-uppy” with a club and ball, hitting the ball with the iron between his legs and behind his back, and not once losing the ball.

The climax was supposed to be Woods hitting the ball up and driving it on to the fairway. But all 10 attempts were unsuccessful and the champion eventually conceded defeat.

“So basically I’m a has-been,” Woods joked, “but it’s been a lot of fun.”