Golf: Harmon has concerns for Tiger future

Tiger Woods' former coach Butch Harmon believes the 14-time major winner's career now has a huge question mark over it.

"I think his whole future is up in the air," Harmon said after seeing Woods limp out of the Players Championship at Sawgrass a mere nine holes into golf's richest event. Following four knee operations already, the 35-year-old was in joint last place on six over par when he withdrew from his first tournament since injuring himself at The Masters more than a month ago. "Does it mean he needs more surgery?" Harmon added. "If he does who knows what is going to happen."

Woods knew he was in trouble from the very first of his 42 shots and went on to post one better than the worst nine holes of his career on the PGA Tour. He had begun practising again only on Monday after four weeks of rest, but his warm-up did not prepare him for what followed. "It felt fine, but at first the knee acted up and then the Achilles followed after that and then the calf started cramping up," Woods said. "Everything started getting tight, so it's just a whole chain reaction. It's hard to put muscle pressure on it right now, so it's a bit of a struggle. I'm having a hard time walking."

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Woods bogeyed the first, triple-bogeyed the 384-yard fourth and dropped more shots on the fifth and ninth. He has just over a month to get fit for the US Open and would usually use the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village on June 2-5 as his one event between now and then. But this was only his seventh start of the season and he has so far managed only two top-ten finishes, slipping to eighth in the world already and likely to fall further this weekend. There could be changes at the top of the rankings too.

German Martin Kaymer, who will go ahead of the absent Lee Westwood again with a top-two finish on Sunday, opened with a five-under-par 67. But that was good enough only for a share of fifth spot behind four Americans - Nick Watney shot 64, Lucas Glover 65 and both David Toms and 54-year-old Mark O'Meara had 66s. Graeme McDowell also made it round in 67.