Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. — Dressed in his Sunday red shirt, Tiger Woods bowed his head and sat in silence in front of his locker.
He was supposed to be on the ninth hole at The Players Championship. In another stunning twist for someone whose life used to be so predictable, Woods withdrew suddenly with neck pain that he fears might be a bulging disk.
Woods was so frustrated that he slammed his golf shoe to the floor while taking questions from three reporters.
“I’ve been playing through it,” Woods said of pain he first felt before the Masters. “I can’t play through it anymore.”
Woods said he did not know what caused the injury, only that “playing doesn’t help it.” He took 10 questions before going into a physical-therapy trailer for 37 minutes and leaving the TPC Sawgrass.
This is Woods’ first withdrawal from a tournament since the Nissan Open at Riviera in 2006, when he narrowly made the cut and withdrew from the final two rounds because of the flu.
At long last, Clark wins
Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. — Tim Clark no longer has to hear about being the best player never to have won on the PGA Tour. He settled that Sunday by beating the best field in golf.
Clark played the final 26 holes without a bogey and made an eight-foot par on the final hole for a 5-under 67 to win The Players Championship with a record 36-hole comeback at TPC Sawgrass.
“I did all I could there,” said Clark, a 34-year-old South African. “That’s as good as I could have played.”
Andersson Hed prevails
Turin, Italy — Fredrik Andersson Hed of Sweden won the Italian Open by two shots Sunday after shooting a 1-over 73, his first tournament victory in 245 attempts.
Henin, Sharapova ousted
Madrid — Former top-ranked players Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova crashed out in the first round of the Madrid Masters on Sunday.
Aravane Rezai beat Henin, 4-6, 7-5, 6-0, and Lucie Safarova edged Sharapova, 6-4, 6-3.
Henin said she had not fully recovered after falling ill following her win at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart last weekend, her first title since coming out of retirement.
Belgrade, Serbia — Sam Querrey survived a match point as he rallied to beat John Isner, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, Sunday to win an all-American Serbia Open final.
Montanes defends crown
Oeiras, Portugal — Albert Montanes successfully defended his Estoril Open title with a 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-5 victory over unseeded Frederico Gil of Portugal in Sunday’s final.
Youzhny claims BMW title
Munich — Mikhail Youzhny beat top-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, on Sunday to win the BMW Open for his first title of the year. The second-seeded Russian captured the BMW Open at his third attempt in the final, having lost in 2007 and 2009.
Saints pass on Russell
Metairie, La. — Saints coach Sean Payton says he doesn’t think now would be the right time for New Orleans to bring in former LSU star JaMarcus Russell.
Russell was a popular college player in Louisiana, putting together a highlight-filled LSU career that led Oakland to make him the No. 1 overall draft choice of 2007. But Russell struggled with the Raiders, who released him Thursday after thee seasons.
Delaney returning to VT
Blacksburg, Va. — Virginia Tech says guard Malcolm Delaney has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to the Hokies for his senior season.
The Baltimore native led the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring this season with a 20.2-point average. He says he learned while investigating his NBA prospects that he would not be a first-round draft choice and is planning to “help lead Virginia Tech to a Final Four.”
He says he also hopes to earn his degree by the end of his first semester.
A-Rod’s HR ties Robinson
Boston — Alex Rodriguez tied Frank Robinson for seventh place with 586 career homers.
Rodriguez’s third homer of the season, a solo shot, just cleared the left-field wall in the fourth inning of the New York Yankees’ game against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday night. It cut Boston’s lead to 6-2.
Seattle fires hitting coach
Seattle — Hitting coach Alan Cockrell was fired by the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, becoming the fall guy for an underperforming offense that is the worst in the American League.
Cockrell was scouting in the Mariners video room at Safeco Field when he was called into manager Don Wakamatsu’s office and told of the change by Wakamatsu and general manager Jack Zduriencik. Alonzo Powell was promoted from Triple-A Tacoma, where he has been hitting coach for three seasons, to take Cockrell’s spot.
Farrar takes second stage
Utrecht, Netherlands — Tyler Farrar made a late charge to win the second stage of the Giro d’Italia in a sprint finish on Sunday, while Cadel Evans took the overall leader’s pink jersey.
The American rider recovered from being involved in a crash earlier in the race to win the 130-mile stage in 4 hours, 56 minutes, 46 seconds.
Matthew Goss of Australia was second, and Fabio Sabatini of Italy was third.
“I am so happy,” Farrar said. “It’s beautiful. My goal was to win a stage. I have done that.”
Webber cruises to victory
Barcelona, Spain — Red Bull’s Mark Webber secured a comfortable wire-to-wire victory at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday, while Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Webber’s teammate Sebastian Vettel filled out the podium after Lewis Hamilton crashed with one lap remaining.