After a long road to the Masters with some frustrating results along the way, Garcia rejuvenated himself by spending three weeks at home in Spain. He has a close circle of friends who don't talk golf. They play tennis, soccer, ride bikes and go swimming -- all the things he doesn't do at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla.
'What I feel that I have in Spain, I don't have in Orlando,' Garcia said. 'Although I love staying in Orlando and I think it's a great city, I don't have that group of friends that I can disconnect totally from golf. And that's something that I really need.'
Garcia, 24, didn't even have his driver's license when he first started playing the PGA Tour five years ago. He is close friends with Jesper Parnevik, Ernie Els and other players -- all of them older, most of them married with children. He doesn't have many friends outside golf at Lake Nona.
'In Orlando, all my friends are golf friends,' he said.
Garcia usually stays at his Lake Nona house -- purchased from Els, who found a bigger place -- when he is playing three weeks in a row in the United States.
VIVA LAS VEGAS
The Las Vegas Invitational is cutting the tournament from 90 holes to 72, and swapping out one of the courses for the Jack Nicklaus-designed Bear's Best.
The Las Vegas event will be played Oct. 7-10 and retain its pro-am format for the first three days. Players will compete on the TPC Canyons, the TPC at Summerlin and Bear's Best, with the final round held at Summerlin.
Tournament chairman John Sullivan said one reason for the change to 72 holes is to accommodate those playing the American Express Championship in Ireland the previous week.
Tiger Woods already has had 11 partners in the six Ryder Cup and President Cup matches he has played. By the sound of it, he could be adding to that list in September at Oakland Hills.
Several players and caddies have speculated in recent weeks that Chad Campbell would be the ideal partner for Woods, and Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton did little to quash the rumors.
'Someone asked me who would be a good partner for Tiger, and I said, 'Chad Campbell,'' Sutton said. 'That doesn't mean it's set in stone.'
Campbell still has to make the team. His Bay Hill victory moved him up to No. 6 in the standings, and his game is so sound that he appears to be a lock.
Woods has never had the same partner for all four team matches in the three Ryder Cups he has played. He played all four with Notah Begay (2000) and Charles Howell III (2003) in the Presidents Cup.
A Woods-Campbell team would have one interesting connection.
UNLV recruited Woods to play golf for the Rebels. When he decided to attend Stanford, UNLV gave the scholarship to Campbell.
Tiger Woods will find a slightly different Dubsdread Course at Cog Hill when he defends his title at the Western Open.
The fifth hole has been shortened 45 yards and will play as a par 4 at 480 yards, making the Dubsdread Course at par 71 for the first time. Also, the par-5 ninth was stretched 38 yards to play at 600 yards.
'The players are bigger and stronger and are hitting the ball longer and straighter. And the equipment is better,' said Frank Jemsek, owner and president of Cog Hill. 'They're outdating golf courses. When the pros first came to Cog Hill, the course was a challenge. It no longer was a challenge. That was the impetus for
Woods said No. 5 will still play as a driver and a mid-iron or short iron, as long as it's downwind.
'But if the wind switches and goes back in your face, then it becomes a very difficult hole,' he said.
Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton keeps prodding guys to play hard and make the team, but that doesn't seem to be working. None of the players from seventh through 14th in the U.S. standings has finished in the top 10 the last four weeks. ... Vijay Singh has played the last two holes of his last two final rounds in 8 over par -- a bogey-double bogey finish at Quail Hollow, a quadruple bogey-bogey finish at the Byron Nelson. ... The Women's British Open will return to Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2006, giving the Lancashire Coast of England a doubleheader that summer. The British Open will be a few weeks earlier at Royal Liverpool.
STAT OF THE WEEK
A tie for the fourth in the Byron Nelson Championship was the 100th time Tiger Woods has finished in the top 10 on the PGA Tour in 154 starts -- a rate of 65 percent.
'I've never seen him on so many TV shows before.' -- Tiger Woods, when asked if he noticed any difference in Phil Mickelson since winning the Masters.
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