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10:58AM

Newsday: Tiger eyes gold after golf gets Olympic boost

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday


Tiger Woods has plenty of gold already. But he now might be in line for a gold medal.

The International Olympic Committee executive board, meeting in Berlin Thursday, recommended golf and rugby be added to the sports for the 2016 Games. The full IOC will vote on the final decision Oct. 9 at Copenhagen.

"I would love to play for the rugby team,'' joked Tiger, after shooting a 5-under par 67 for the first-day lead of the 91st PGA Championship. "No, I think it's great for golf. We're long overdue to have it in the Olympics. Our sport is a global sport.''

Woods would be 40 at the time of the 2016 Games but said unless he retires, he likely would play. His support was credited with giving golf the boost it needed to make the cut over sports such as baseball and softball.

"I can't overstate the importance of that,'' said Ty Votaw, a PGA Tour official and executive director of the International Golf Federation's Olympic bid committee.

"Tiger being involved . . . is very important,'' said Votaw, "as is the support of the top players.''

Padraig Harrington, the defending PGA champion who played with Tiger and finished a shot behind him Thursday, said if golf is included it should be stroke play, 72 holes, like a major.

"I think,'' contended Harrington, the Irishman who also has won two British Opens, "in 100 years time the Olympics could be the fifth major . . . It's only once every four years, So in time it could become the premier event in golf.

"I believe the best players will turn up. It's not too many players, even a dominant one, who are going to get to play more than once or twice because of the time frame. So 72-hole stroke would bring out a true winner.''

If golf is accepted, adjustments would have to be made to the global schedule, possibly revising dates for either the Ryder Cup or PGA Championship.

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http://www.newsday.com/sports/golf/tiger-eyes-gold-after-golf-gets-olympic-boost-1.1368873
Copyright © 2009 Newsday. All rights reserved.
9:31AM

Newsday: Tiger stays in the groove and leads PGA by one

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday


The questions are different now for Tiger Woods. Nobody asks what's wrong. They only wonder if he's playing better than he ever has and the man -- The Man -- appears to be doing exactly that.

A winner the last two weeks, Tiger hasn't lost any momentum. He'll never lose his fixation for success.

"If you don't think you can win,'' Woods has said again and again, "then why enter?''

At the 91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine National in the suburbs ofMinneapolis, Woods has once again entered the zone.

Woods didn't win any of the three previous majors this year, and missed the cut in last month's British Open, but that problem should be corrected shortly.

Tiger on Day 1 shot a 5-under par 67 and is a shot in front of one of his playing partners and the defending champion,Padraig Harrington, whom he overtook Sunday in the controversial ending of the Bridgestone Invitational.

Six golfers are tied for third at 3-under 69 -- Robert Allenby, Mathew Goggin, Hunter Mahan, Alvaro Quiros and two who like Woods and Harrington have won PGA Championships, Vijay Singh and David Toms.

U.S. Open winner Lucas Glover is at 71, British Open winner Stewart Cink 73, Phil Mickelson 74 and Masters winner Angel Cabrera 76.

The day belonged to Woods, and there's no reason to think the tournament also won't belong to Woods.


"It's always nice to get off to a quick start,'' understated Tiger, who hasn't done that of late, averaging 71.8 in the opening rounds of his last five majors, and winning only one, the 2008 U.S. Open.

"I feel pretty comfortable if I'm playing well,'' Woods said. "There are times I've put it together and had some pretty good margins of victory.''

His game Thursday -- five birdies, no bogeys, only 29 putts -- is evidence this may be one of those times.

"Tiger looks like he's playing well,'' agreed Harrington after his second straight round with Woods in two different tournaments. "If he's moving away, I want to make sure I'm moving with him.''

On Sunday, in the Bridgestone in Akron, Ohio, Harrington, going head-to-head with Woods, got flustered when the two were put on the clock because of slow play. He took a triple-bogey 8 on the 16th hole, and surrendered the lead and the tournament to Tiger.

That was Woods' 70th PGA Tour victory, third all-time to Sam Snead's 82 and Jack Nicklaus' 73. That was Woods' affirmation that somehow, some way he will win.

Unless, of course, he misses the cut as at Turnberry, which he has turned into an asset.

"I had that nice little rest there after the British,'' he quipped, "I have plenty of energy.''

Seven years ago Tiger finished second in the last PGA held at Hazeltine, a shot behind Rich Beem who yesterday, in the threesome with Woods and Harrington, had a 1-under 71. It was presumed Tiger would play well this time, if not as well as he played.

"It's something I've always believed in,'' Woods said. "The first round, just keep yourself around. You don't have to be eight under. Just got to keep plodding along.''

His plodding looks more like sprinting.

When Woods, Harrington and Beem were on the green of the 606-yard, par-5 11th hole, a ball bounced up. It was hit by Quiros, the Spaniard. His second shot, a driver off the deck.

"He apologized,'' Woods said. "Nothing to apologize for. I mean that's stupid long, isn't it? It's just absolutely phenomenal. I used to be able to move the ball like that. Not anymore. Just plod my way around and shoot 67.''

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http://www.newsday.com/sports/golf/tiger-stays-in-the-groove-and-leads-pga-by-one-1.1368897
Copyright © 2009 Newsday. All rights reserved.
11:00AM

SF Examiner: Untainted Tiger truly a positive sports hero

By Art Spander
Special to The Examiner


You want a positive force in sports? Someone who makes headlines for reasons other than being accused? Someone who keeps himself at the front and keeps the rest of us in his thrall?

That man is The Man, arguably the most successful athlete on the planet at the moment and unquestionably the best golfer in history, Tiger Woods.

Tiger has his flaws, mostly a potty mouth. He can swear a blue streak, and it’s not in private. “Unfortunately, I do make mistakes,” he agreed, “and I hit bad shots and I say bad things at times. I don’t mean to. It just comes out.”

But that’s it. No shooting himself in the leg. No torturing animals. No performance enhancing drugs. Just a temper which at times is not under control. As we know, there’s a lot worse.

This is the final chance for Tiger in ’09, the PGA Championship. He’s 0-for-3 in the Masters, U.S. Open at British Open. He’s had a spectacular year, five wins, two of those the last two weeks. But without a major, can it be a spectacular year for Tiger Woods?

“It’s been a great year either way,” Woods said Tuesday. “For me to come back and play as well as I’ve done and actually win golf events, to say at the beginning of the year, when I was feeling the way I was, I don’t think any of us would have thought I could have won this many events this year.”

He was in the media tent at Hazeltine National Golf Club, some 20 miles southwest of Minneapolis, where the 91st PGA starts Thursday. He was in a good mood. And why not?

A year ago, Woods was on crutches, recovering from that ACL surgery on his left knee. A year ago, his career if not in doubt was full of questions.

Now it’s full of anticipation. Whatever he’s done, 70 wins overall, third most in PGA Tour history behind Sam Snead’s 82 and Jack Nicklaus’ 73; whatever he’s accomplished, victories in 14 majors; Tiger is not satisfied. He wants more.

The way Joe Montana wanted more Super Bowl victories. The way Michael Jordan wanted more NBA titles. Which is understandable.

Greed not only is acceptable in sports, it is demanded. An athlete must be driven, as is Tiger Woods.

In 2000, Woods won nine tournaments, three of them majors. A few years later he was reworking his swing, making changes which he believed would make improvements. Yesterday didn’t mean as much as tomorrow.

If the Tiger of nine years ago played a hypothetical match against the Tiger of the present, someone asked, who would come out on top?

“I would win now,” meaning the Tiger of ’09. “I know how to manage my game a hell of a lot better than I did then.”

It will be interesting to see how he manages at Hazeltine where in the 2002 PGA he finished second by a shot.

“Oh, man,” said Woods, “the course is in phenomenal shape.”

So, it appears, is Tiger Woods, the untainted sporting hero.

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http://www.sfexaminer.com/sports/Spander-Untainted-Tiger-truly-a-positive-sports-hero-53006307.html
Copyright 2009 SF Newspaper Company
9:17AM

RealClearSports: Tiger Controversy Is What Golf Needs



By Art Spander
For RealClearSports.com

CHASKA, Minn. --This is what golf needs, a good controversy that involves the unquestioned best player in the game.

Maybe the people who dote on scandal and debate will decide indeed there is more to the sport than handshakes and kind words.
These are times of action, and about the only action in golf is bending over to pick a ball from the cup. Golf then must do it with reaction.

Like the reaction of Tiger Woods to being charged, along with playing partner Padraig Harrington, with slow play in Sunday's final round of the Bridgestone Invitational over at Akron.

Tiger's in a bigger event this week, the 91st PGA Championship, which starts Thursday at Hazeltine National some 20 miles southwest of Minneapolis. He's trying to win his first major of the year. He's also still trying to defend his criticism of a rules official at the Bridgestone.

Tiger's the big dog. When Tiger barks, everybody hears. Tiger barked loudly after winning the Bridgestone.

He and Harrington, coming down the stretch, separated by a shot, were put on the clock by John Paramor, a European official working the tournament because it was a World Golf Association event. In a timeless game, Tiger and Padraig were being timed, threatened by a fine and a penalty stroke.

Harrington apparently rushed his chip shot from behind the green on 16 and the ball bounced into a pond. He ended with a triple-bogey 8, losing four shots to Woods, the lead and finally the tournament. Padraig stayed silent. Woods did not.

"The way I understood it,'' Woods said Tuesday, "we were the only two in contention. We had separated ourselves. The winner was not going to come from the groups ahead. It was going to come from our group, and we were having a great battle.''

Forty-eight hours earlier, Woods stated, "I'm sorry John (Paramor) got in the way of a great battle, but that happened.''

In his defense, Paramor said the twosome was 17 minutes behind the preceding group on the 16th tee, and the warning was deserved.

On Monday, a day later, there was a story that the PGA Tour, in its speak-no-evil ways, had fined Woods for his remarks. But Tuesday Tiger said he was not fined. Neither was he fine.

"I thought they could have used better judgment,'' Woods said of being put on the clock. "It certainly influenced us in how we played and influenced the outcome of the tournament, and that's not how you want to have a tournament come to an end.''

Harrington, the defending PGA champion, was less critical than Tiger but hardly less displeased.

"As regards to what he said,'' explained Harrington, "I think it's easier for having won the tournament to take the moral high ground and say what he wants. Having lost the tournament, I'm going to take it on the chin and say it was my mistake.''

Which, literally, it was. Hassled or not, flustered or not, a player as good as Harrington, who has two British Open wins along with his PGA, is not supposed to lose control.

The people in charge of golf shudder at this stuff. They deem golf a gentleman's game and attempt to cover up any misfortune or disagreement.

At the Masters, there's a booklet with a quote from the late Bobby Jones warning fans not to cheer a player's errors. The Tour last winter refused to confirm that John Daly had been suspended, even though he had been.

But golf is better off with controversy. Baseball, football, basketball, and even tennis thrive on it. All of a sudden, you have Tiger Woods talking like a low-key Ozzie Guillen -- standing up for what he thinks is right and getting as much attention as for his marvelous play.

Woods has won five tournaments in '09, a year that begin with him still rehabilitating the June 2008 anterior cruciate ligament surgery on his left knee. Two of those victories have come in the last two weeks. However, none of those victories has been in a major.

"For me to come back and play as well as I have,'' said Woods when asked if this still would be a top year without a major win, "and actually win golf events, to say at the very beginning of the year, I don't think any of us could have thought I would win this many events.''

Told that previously he wouldn't have thought it was a good year without a win in a major, something that hasn't happened since 2004, Woods answered, "I've said that in the past, but I didn't have ACL reconstruction either.''

He had it. He's back. And he's letting golf know, with his game and his comments.

As a reporter since 1960, Art Spander is a living treasure of sports history. A recipient of the Dick McCann Memorial Award -- given for his long and distinguished career covering professional football -- he has earned himself a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was recently honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the PGA of America for 2009.

8:49PM

Newsday: Watson, 59, shares British Open lead; Woods misses cut

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

TURNBERRY, Scotland -- The haunting unpredictability of golf jolted the British Open on a windy afternoon that sent the world's No. 1 player out of the tournament and surprising Tom Watson and Steve Marino into a share of the halfway lead.

Tiger Woods, the overwhelming favorite -- in the betting parlors as well as in casual conversations -- missed the cut. That was more stunning than the 59-year-old Watson -- the oldest player to lead a major championship -- and the winless Marino moving into a first-place tie.

Marino, 29, a graduate of the University of Virginia who had never even seen a links course until this week, shot a 2-under-par 68 Friday at Turnberry. Watson, a five-time Open champion, was at 70. Each had a 36-hole total of 5-under 135.

A shot back at 136 was another of the near-geriatric set, 49-year-old Mark Calcavecchia. Ross Fisher, Retief Goosen, Kenichi Kuboya, Vijay Singh and first-day leader Miguel Angel Jimenez were tied for fourth at 137.

Only once in 48 previous majors as a pro -- the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot a few weeks after his father, Earl, died of cancer -- had Woods missed a cut.

Unable to control his tee shots, even though he mostly used irons and his 3-wood instead of a driver, Woods lost seven shots to par in a torturous stretch of six holes on the famed course, eight through 13.

He had bogeys at eight, nine and 12 and double bogeys at 10 and 13. Even a birdie at 17 was of little help as Woods shot a 74. Added to Thursday's 71, it left him at 145, a shot over the 144 cut line.

"I was 1 under par for seven holes,'' Woods said, attempting to mask his disappointment, "and just right there in the championship and had a few tough holes right in a row and couldn't get it back.

"I hit a couple of bad shots, but other than that, I made a double bogey at 13 from 150 yards. It was just problem after problem. I kept compounding my problems out there. I just made mistakes, and obviously, you can't make mistakes not only to make the cut but to try and win a championship. You have to play clean rounds of golf, and I didn't.''

This is the third straight major of 2009 in which Woods came in two weeks after a victory and didn't win, although in the other two - the Masters and U.S. Open at Bethpage Black - a pair of sixth-place finishes were hardly as crushing.

The double bogey at 10, a 446-yard par 4, came after a lost ball. Using a 3-wood, Woods smashed his tee ball into the deep rough.

Woods, who had been the 2-1 choice in this nation where gambling is legal - The Racing Post called the action on Woods a "feeding frenzy'' - won three previous Opens. But he never had played Turnberry, on the west coast of Scotland along the Firth of Clyde, until a practice round Sunday. He did not take to the course.

"I was playing well coming in,'' said Woods, who when asked what was next on the agenda answered, "Head home.''

The great drama now is whether Watson -- who won at Turnberry in 1977, edging Jack Nicklaus in their renowned "Duel in the Sun'' -- is headed for a miracle win.

The oldest major winner was 48-year-old Julius Boros in the 1968 PGA Championship. Greg Norman was 53 when he challenged in last year's Open at Royal Birkdale before slipping back the final day. This time Norman missed the cut at 77-75-152.

"The spirits are with me,'' Watson said. "And I've holed some long putts.''

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http://www.newsday.com/sports/highschool/golf/ny-spbrit1812980876jul17,0,2331801.story
Copyright © 2009, Newsday Inc.