Dec/17

4

Nadal supports his pal Tiger Woods in Nassau

rafana

By Scoop Malinowski

Tiger Woods did not win Hero World Challenge golf tournament in Nassau, Bahamas yesterday but it was not because of a lack of support from the best tennis player in the world.

The ATP world no. 1 Rafael Nadal had been vacationing on nearby Exuma Island and decided to fly in for the day to watch and support his friend Tiger, who is returning to competition after a nine month layoff. Woods played well and finished at -8 on the final leaderboard, good enough for a ninth place finish and ten strokes below the winner Rickie Fowler. Woods finished just four strokes behind Jordan Spieth and three behind Justin Rose.

Nadal followed the action for all 18 holes, walking inside the ropes to observe Woods from close up. Nadal, a 2.5 handicap himself, was more than impressed by what he saw. “I’ve seen him play before but I didn’t expect him to play this well at the beginning,” Nadal told sportswriter Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post. “I think this is a very important moment now for golf and himself and for all the people who love the sport in general. He’s the most charismatic star golf has had in the past fifty years or so. For everyone to see him back is something great for the sport.”

Nadal compared Woods plight to his own. “When you are injured, as I went through a couple of times in my career, you don’t think about what other people are thinking – you think about coming back and being healthy. You know that the beginning is going to be tough, for sure, and you have to be ready for those tough situations. And when you go through them, you are stronger. You have a lot of energy and passion because you weren’t able to do what you used to be able to do for a while.”

With the solid effort in Bahamas, Woods, who will turn 42 later this month, raised his world ranking from 1,199 to inside the top 700. With a few more consistent results over the coming months, Woods could add to his total of 14 majors and 106 professional wins.

Nadal will certainly be supporting Woods on this comeback journey, for as long as it lasts. “I’m happy to see him play well. Tiger is unbelievable. I just love to see him play whether it is here or on TV. The first thing is you need to be healthy to practice again as well as mentally strong to do the things you think you need to do to be back to your top. If Tiger’s healthy, then I believe that he has everything to be where he deserves to be.”

Woods earned $122,500 for his ninth place finish at the Albany Golf Club, which is nearby Lleyton Hewitt’s Albany Tennis Academy.

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