independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Tiger caught in tee-box row as Rory 'gives up'

Rory McIlroy with his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki during day one of the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final.

Tiger Woods unwittingly found himself part of a police investigation here following a claim by a photographer that he had been headbutted by Turkey's top-ranking golf official.

The alleged incident occurred as the world No 2 waited to tee off at the inaugural Turkish Airlines World Golf Finals. Cihat Ünal, who works for a local news agency, pressed assault charges against Ahmet Agaoglu, president of the Turkish Golf Federation, who have arranged this, the biggest golf event ever to take place in the country.

Amid chaotic scenes on the first tee at the Antalya Golf Clu, Unal's glasses were broken, and he attended a police station to file his complaint.

Agaoglu denied he headbutted Unal, saying: "He pushed me and I pushed him back and he fell over."

Nevertheless, this is an embarrassing episode for the organisers. With four of the world's top five in the eight-man field, this match-play event has been staged to showcase Turkey's merits as a top golfing venue as well as advance the prospective bid for the 2022 Olympics.

The anticipation was feverish. When 14-time Major winner Woods walked out to face Charl Schwartzel, the local media swarmed around him. Mark Steinberg, Woods' manager, was heard to comment: "The cameramen are out of control," with the golfer's heavy security detail struggling to contain the frenzy.

It was at this stage that the tussle occured, although is not known if Woods witnessed the alleged assault.

A millionaire who has made his fortune through haulage, Agaoglu has been the driving force in bringing big-time golf to his country.

Woods, who lost to Schwartzel, will play world No 1 Rory McIlroy in a long-awaited duel this afternoon, although if the pair are both beaten against Matt Kuchar and Schwartzel respectively in the morning, then the match would be a dead rubber with both eliminated before tomorrow's semi-finals.

That would be another huge blow for the organisers of the $5.2m championship.

Both players only had themselves to blame for their poor openings.

Woods took a triple-bogey seven on the ninth after a visit to the water. That handed the initiative to Schwartzel, who held on to win by a shot in the medal strokeplay format. Yet Woods' 70 was commendable when compared to McIlroy's five-over 76.

The Northern Irishman was level with Kuchar on the 15th when a seven caused his challenge to implode, as he dropped seven strokes in three holes.

Kuchar said he believed his opponent "lost interest" after chopping around in the trees on his way to a triple-bogey and McIlroy admitted as much. "I was playing pretty well until the 15th, then I hit it into the hazard on 16 and was just trying to get the round done," he said. "I lost a bit of concentration, went a few behind and gave up a bit."

Woods conceded his showdown with McIlroy would be an anti-climax unless they could come through their second group matches. "We have to both win in the morning," said Woods. "We're the two highest ranked players in the world and it will be a fun match either way, but it will obviously be a lot better if we both win in the morning." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Turkish Airlines World Golf Finals

Live, Sky Sports 2, 10.30

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