By Tony Jimenez
WATFORD, England (Reuters) – Ryder Cup rookie Chris Wood is gutted his hero Tiger Woods has scrapped plans to make a comeback this week, calling it a blow to the European Tour as well as to the millions of golf fans around the world.
Fourteen-times major champion Woods announced on Monday that his game was not sharp enough for him to compete in the PGA Tour event starting in Napa, California, on Thursday or at next month’s Turkish Airlines Open.
The 40-year-old American has been sidelined for 14 months because of back-related injuries.
“It would have been great for the European Tour for him to play in Turkey,” Wood told a news conference on Tuesday ahead of this week’s British Masters on the outskirts of London.
“There would have been that buzz of Tiger’s back … and he’s playing on the European Tour so it is really disappointing for myself as a golf fan … because he was my golfing hero.
“He won the U.S. Masters when I was 10 years old. From that point on he’s the only guy I’ve ever looked up to.”
Wood won this year’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, the European Tour’s flagship event, and he was asked if he felt the former world number one’s playing days had come to an end.
“I don’t think he’ll ever say it’s over,” said the 28-year-old Briton. “But you never know with Tiger.
“Nobody’s ever known, really, throughout his whole career what he really does golf-wise when he’s at home, practice-wise, gym, all that sort of thing, nobody knows and he never gives on.
“He doesn’t deserve for his career to come to a finish in this way. He deserves to go out in all the style that his records still deserve.”
Wood is dreaming of joining Nick Faldo (1989), Seve Ballesteros (1991) and Colin Montgomerie (1998) as the only players to achieve the PGA Championship-British Masters double in the same year.
“That’s quite a big thing for me to take in,” said the 6-foot-6 Englishman. “And extra motivation to try.
“That would be a hell of a thing to have on your CV, to be associated with those three players.”
(Editing by xxx)