Notes Brett Meet Tiger Caddie Gate

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PGA Tour (75x100)AKRON, Ohio -- Brett Wetterich will be on the plane Sunday night to Ireland with the rest of the Ryder Cup team, but first he has to take care of some business.
 
Like meeting Tiger Woods for the first time.

And perhaps getting some pointers on match play.
 
None of the Americans on this team are more unknown than Wetterich, who might be the first player to go from Q-school to making the Ryder Cup team in the same year.
 
'Thank God for the new points system,' he said Tuesday at the Bridgestone Invitational. 'I didn't have many points last year. I had a great year, and it worked out good for me.'
 
Know this about Wetterich -- he can hit it a mile and make birdies.
 
Wetterich is fourth on the PGA Tour in driving distance at 308.2 yards, and has decent accuracy for such power. Perhaps more importantly, he is third in making birdies, which should come in handy at The K Club.
 
The new points system emphasized this year's performance, and Wetterich earned his spot. He was fourth in New Orleans, won the Byron Nelson Championship and tied for second at Memorial.
 
He was 10th in the standings going to the PGA Championship, but two quadruple bogeys knocked him from the top of the leaderboard to a 76 in the first round, and he missed the cut. Wetterich spent Sunday watching the final round, paying close attention to Tim Herron, Steve Stricker and Davis Love III, the only players who had a remote chance of catching him.
 
'I was a little nervous,' he said. 'But there's nothing you can do. I played bad and I didn't do my part, so it wasn't up to me what was going to happen.'
 
Wetterich says he has never met Woods, the No. 1 player in the world, although he has passed by him in the locker room. It was surprising that he never played match play, even in the U.S. Junior Amateur or U.S. Amateur.
 
'Nope,' he said. 'I never qualified for match play. But I think I'll be good at it. I'll have some bad holes, but I usually make my share of birdies.'
 
Told that American teammate Vaughn Taylor also has not experienced match play, Wetterich smiled.
 
'I like Vaughn,' he said.
 
CADDIEGATE
Michelle Wie fired her caddie despite have a chance to win three LPGA majors on the 18th hole.
 
Perhaps more surprising is Lorena Ochoa dumping her caddie while leading the LPGA Tour money list.
 
Golfweek magazine reported that Ochoa fired Lance Bennett after the Mexican star finished second to Sorenstam in Sweden. Ochoa now is No. 2 on the money list, a mere $1,017 behind Karrie Webb.
 
'I'm disappointed it ended the way it did because of all the success we've shared this year,' Bennett told the magazine. 'This is the last thing I ever believed would have happened. But hey, she has to do what she feels is best for her.'
 
CONFIDENCE BOOST
Scott Verplank became the first captain's pick to have never played in a Ryder Cup in 2001. Two weeks later, he won the Canadian Open at Royal Montreal.
 
Stewart Cink was a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup in 2004, then won the next week at Firestone.
 
Is it merely a coincidence?
 
'No,' Verplank said. 'It's such an honor, and it's such a huge vote of confidence to be picked by a guy who's running the team. There's a lot of choices, and to be singled out ... that's a pretty ringing endorsement.'
 
WELCOME BACK
Corey Pavin was last at Firestone in 1996 after winning the Colonial.
 
He returned this week having won the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, and so much has changed. It's now called the Bridgestone Invitational, a World Golf Championship event worth $7.5 million that pays $1.3 million to the winner and $30,250 for last place.
 
Pavin earned $60,900 when he finished ninth 10 years ago.
 
And then there's the course, one of the longest on tour 10 years ago at 7,149 yards. Now it measures 7,360 yards.
 
'They've taken a wealth of trees out of the golf course and they've added some length,' Pavin said. 'I'm not sure when they did that. It could have been eight years ago. It's as good as I can remember this course ever being.'
 
MAJOR PERFORMANCE
No one finished in the top 10 at all four majors this year. In fact, there were only 10 players who even made the cut in all four majors.
 
Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk were the only Americans to cash a check in every Grand Slam event. Tiger Woods won two majors and tied for third at the Masters, but he missed the cut at the U.S. Open.
 
The other eight players to make every cut in a major were U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, Jose Maria Olazabal, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Mike Weir, Robert Allenby, Adam Scott, Luke Donald and Ernie Els.
 
COMPUTER GAMES
The PGA Tour allows a computer to crank out the pairings each week, but it sure didn't look very random at the International. With two events remaining to qualify for the Ryder Cup team, 10 of the top 20 players in the standings were either paired together or with captain Tom Lehman.
 
Phil Mickelson played with Lucas Glover and Davis Love III; J.J. Henry was in the same group as David Toms. John Rollins, 11th in the standings, somehow wound up with Lehman.
 
The PGA Tour tournament director that week, Slugger White, says it was truly a coincidence.
 
'The computer doesn't know the difference between the Ryder Cup and a coffee cup,' White said Tuesday. 'It was untouched by human hands, I promise you.'
 
DIVOTS
Nine players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team once played on the Nationwide Tour, the exceptions being Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Scott Verplank ... The Byron Nelson Championship raised $6.33 million for charity, the fifth time that The Salesmanship Club Charitable Golf of Dallas (which runs the tournament) has crossed the $6 million mark. ... Comedian George Lopez will be celebrity host of the Bob Hope Classic. ... Woods' victory at Medinah gave him five this year on the PGA Tour, the seventh time he has won at least five. Sam Snead holds the record with eight years of at least five victories.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
In winning his last three tournaments, Tiger Woods ranked No. 1 in driving accuracy at the British Open, driving distance at the Buick Open and greens in regulation at the PGA Championship.
 
FINAL WORD
'He's done so much winning and he's won so many different ways, there isn't any situation that catches him off guard.' -- Hank Haney, the swing coach for Tiger Woods.