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Tiger Woods withdraws as rain holds up Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia in Akron

Tiger Woods was forced to withdraw  during the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational

Tiger Woods was forced to withdraw during the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational

Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy had to wait longer than expected to begin their duel in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational after more bad weather in Akron on Sunday.

Torrential rain left parts of the Firestone Country Club course under water and forced play to be suspended as Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson prepared to get their final rounds under way.

But while Woods got his round underway, he was later forced to withdraw.

Play was able to resume after the rain stopped and greenkeeping staff were able to clear the course, but the delay pushed Garcia and McIlroy’s tee time back by an hour and 15 minutes to 3:20pm local time.

Garcia held a three-shot lead over Ryder Cup team-mate McIlroy, the man he pushed all the way in the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool a fortnight ago.

The Spaniard had been five shots clear with three holes to play when thunderstorms caused a delay of more than three hours on Saturday, after which McIlroy birdied the 17th and 18th to close the gap.

Garcia has never won a World Golf Championship event and will need to improve on his poor record of only winning three times on the 15 occasions he has held the lead after 54 holes.

Three-time major winner McIlroy has also yet to win a WGC event but victory on Sunday could see the 25-year-old reclaim the world number one spot he last held in March 2013.

However, McIlroy also needs current number one Adam Scott to finish outside the top five and the Australian went into the final round joint fourth alongside Justin Rose and Keegan Bradley, a shot behind compatriot Marc Leishman.

Meanwhile, Woods withdrew sparking fears that he had suffered further serious damage to his back.

Playing just his third event since undergoing microdiscectomy surgery in March, Woods was four over par after eight holes when he pulled out on the ninth hole at Firestone Country Club.

The former world number one looked in severe pain after hitting his tee shot on the par four, wincing as he struggled to bend down to pick up his tee.

And moments later he was on a golf cart being driven straight to the car park where he again looked in real discomfort as he prepared to leave a venue where he has won eight times, including by seven shots last year.

 

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