Woods, Federer compete for sport immortality

15th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Swiss tennis star and US golf champion each have an opportunity to break career records in upcoming games.

Farmingdale -- Swiss tennis star Roger Federer and US golf superstar Tiger Woods each have 14 major titles and an opportunity to win important upcoming games, giving them an edge in their sport rivalry.

World number one Woods will enter the 109th US Open Thursday at Bethpage Black, where he won the 2002 Open crown and may become the first golfer to complete a "Back-to-Back Slam".

The day after the final round of the US Open is the first day of Wimbledon, the grass-court tennis classic which Federer won five times and could take a 15th major title to pass Pete Sampras for the career men's tennis record.

"We don't see each other much, but we stay in touch," Woods said of Federer, with whom he made television commercials and struck up a friendship.

"It's just truly remarkable when he gets it going," Woods said. "He just hits shots that nobody else can hit. It's fun to watch."

Those words are often used to describe Woods as well.

Woods, 33, won 67 titles in 243 events since joining the PGA Tour in 1996 while Federer, who turns 28 in August, won 59 titles in 214 events since his 1998 ATP breakthrough.

Earlier in June, Woods telephoned Federer to wish him luck ahead of the French Open final, then watched his friend on TV win at Roland Garros to complete a career Grand Slam.

"He was impressive to watch," Woods said. "I was pulling for him. I was as nervous as can be for him, yelling at the TV, the whole deal.

"It's fun to watch your friends go out there and play and compete. I get just as nervous doing that because they're my friends."

After the Swiss star won, Woods sent him a congratulatory text message and then went on to win the Memorial, his final event for the US Open.

Woods aims to break the record of 18 major golf titles won by Jack Nicklaus.

He also could become the first player to win all four majors at least two years in a row, earning a "Back-to-Back Slam."

Woods won the PGA Championship in 1999 and 2000, the Masters in 2001 and 2002 and the British Open in 2005 and 2006 and a playoff victory over Rocco Mediate in the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines.

If Federer can defend his French Open title in 2009, he could claim a "Back-to-Back Slam" after having won the 2006 and 2007 Australian Opens and five US Opens and Wimbledons in a row.

But for now, Woods and Federer have doubters.

Federer lost the Wimbledon final in 2008 to Spain's Rafael Nadal and many think he has a great desire to defend at Wimbledon this year.

Woods responded to doubts after his eight-month layoff for knee surgery, leading rivals to request reporters stop motivating Woods to improve by questioning his ability to win.

"I wish you'd all quit (ticking) him off, wish you'd just quit chapping him so much and make him come back and keep proving stuff," US veteran Jim Furyk said.

"Tiger Woods is always Tiger Woods. He can't be 100 percent every week, but I'm sure he answered a lot of questions."

Jim Slater / AFP / Expatica

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