Woods doesn’t earn sympathy

A month ago, gullible golf fans wondered if Tiger Woods might be forced to miss the U.S. Open because of an apparently debilitating neck injury. Some saps even speculated the injury could threaten his career.

Woods was playing poorly — tied for 45th going into the final round — when he withdrew from The Players Championship. He hit a couple of wayward shots, grimaced and quit during the seventh hole.

It’s not uncommon for some athletes to invent injury excuses when things go bad. Woods’ pain in the neck might be legitimate, but with his reputation as a con man, he’s not playing to a sympathetic audience.

Woods has insisted there was “zero connection” between his neck pain and his accident in November, when he crashed a Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant and a tree outside his home.

A month earlier, before the Masters, he was asked what injuries from the crash sent him to a hospital. “I had a busted-up lip and a pretty sore neck, and that was it,” he said.

There’s no telling what the truth is, but Woods has made a miraculous recovery and is ready to tee it up without a neck brace Thursday in the Open at Pebble Beach, a California course he plays well.

But Woods is at his weakest point in a decade. At the Las Vegas Hilton sports book, he’s the co-favorite with Phil Mickelson at 7-1 odds. (It’s rare to see higher than 4-1 odds on Woods.) In their head-to-head matchup, Mickelson is a minus-135 favorite.

Is Woods worth a shot at 7-1?

“I would be a little surprised if he wins,” Hilton golf oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said. “He doesn’t sound like he’s the same Tiger who talks about his expectations to win.”

■ THE ‘OTHER’ PERKINS — The Boston Red Sox selected Kendrick Perkins in the sixth round of last week’s major league draft. After hearing that, the Celtics’ Kendrick Perkins reacted in stunned disbelief, as if he had just been hit with a technical foul.

“No they didn’t. For real? You’re playing,” the Celtics center said to “Now they’ve got another Kendrick Perkins? I thought I was the only one.”

The Perkins who was picked by the Red Sox is a 6-foot-3-inch center fielder from LaPorte High School in Texas.

■ GASOL’S SMALL FAN — Actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth has been watching the NBA Finals with great interest. She grew up in Oklahoma but likes the Los Angeles Lakers. And she claims to really like Pau Gasol, the Lakers’ 7-foot forward.

“I’m rooting for the Lakers,” she said. “I love Pau Gasol. I wish he’d marry me, but he’d have to shave first.”

Chenoweth is attractive and talented, but she’s only 4-11, so this would be an odd-looking couple. Advice to Gasol: Keep the beard and stay single.

■ MISTAKEN IDENTITY — Washington Nationals rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg read a Top 10 list of little-known facts about himself on “Late Show with David Letterman.”

No. 5: “Dumb guys think I directed ‘E.T.’ ”



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