Woods said Tuesday he might play the HSBC World Match Play Championship in England next year for the first time since he lost in the finals to Mark O'Meara in 1998. The tournament is to be played Sept. 14-17, which is one week before the Ryder Cup in Ireland. The week after the Ryder Cup is the American Express Championship in London, and Woods is the defending champion.
'I'm looking at that right now,' Woods said. 'I could do a three-week stint there. You don't have to travel far.'
Woods played the week before the Ryder Cup the last time it was held in Europe. He won the American Express Championship at Mount Juliet in Ireland, then went on to The Belfry for the '02 matches.
He caused a stir that week in Ireland when he said a World Golf Championship title was more important to him than winning the Ryder Cup. 'Why? I can think of a million reasons,' Woods said, referring to the $1 million prize.
The World Match Play Championship has the richest payoff in golf, with more than $1.7 million going to the winner.
ANNIKA MOVES ON
Annika Sorenstam is feeling comfortable enough about her personal life that her boyfriend, Mike McGee, has become slightly more visible at tournaments. The Swedish star talked about her relationship in a recent interview with the Aftonbladet newspaper in Stockholm.
McGee is an agent for International Golf Partners, and the son of former PGA Tour player Jerry McGee. Sorenstam said they have known each other for about six years from parties and LPGA Tour functions.
'But it wasn't until last winter that we reconnected so that our friendship grew strong and, well, now this is what came out of it,' she said.
Sorenstam said her divorce from David Esch was final on Aug. 22. McGee followed her matches at Solheim Cup. He also was at the ADT Championship, escorting her to the LPGA awards banquet at Mar-a-Lago.
She said it was a matter of time before people noticed they were together.
'I think what we have is great, but it hasn't been anything I have wanted the whole world to know about,' she told the newspaper. 'I am still struggling to move on. You can't get over a divorce in just a few months. But being with Mike makes it a little easier. He helps me move on.'
ALLENBY ON TRACK
Robert Allenby is going after the Down Under version of a Triple Crown this week at the Australian Masters, having won the Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship the past two weeks.
More importantly, he might be able to punch his ticket to the real Masters.
His two-week winning streak brought him up to No. 47 in the world ranking, and based on math involved in point reductions over the two-year formula, it appears he will stay in the top 50 when the year ends.
Augusta National invites the top 50 from final world ranking published in 2005.
'I know with the golf I have played over the last couple of weeks, I need to stay positive and I need to believe in myself a little more,' he said. 'If I can do that I know I can win more tournaments in the U.S. and hopefully a major.'
Former LPGA Tour commissioner Ty Votaw has a ring on his finger, but don't jump to any conclusions just yet.
Votaw, who has been dating Sophie Gustafson the last two years, got engaged to the long-hitting Swede two weeks ago during the ADT Championship. Why the ring?
'In Sweden, the guy wears an engagement ring, too,' Votaw said.
The proposal came before taking her to a Bruce Springsteen concert in south Florida, and Votaw said his only regret was not knowing what the Boss would be playing that night.
One of his songs from the album 'The River' is titled, 'I Want to Marry You,' although Springsteen rarely sings that when he's on tour. But he did that night.
'Sophie turned to me and said, 'It would have been really romantic if you had asked me during this song,'' Votaw said. 'But I had already asked, and she accepted.'
Wedding plans have not been set. Votaw, meanwhile, is still between jobs. He left after seven years as commissioner in September, and there is talk he will join the PGA Tour in some capacity, but nothing has been announced.
Former Masters champion Fred Couples played Augusta National in late October and offered what should be a familiar scouting report on the par-3 fourth, which now plays about 240 yards.
'It's hard,' Couples said. 'It's very hard.'
The club altered six holes during the summer, although the two likely to get the most attention are No. 4 and No. 7, both of which were lengthened by 40 yards. The seventh hole had been a 3-wood and a sand wedge. Couples hit a driver and a 7-iron during his latest trip.
'But No. 4, I just felt like under the wrong circumstances, it's just going to be awfully hard,' said Couples, who hit a 2-iron. 'But everyone's got to do it. Stronger players can maybe hit a 3-iron up high and stop it. But with the utility clubs, those go just as high and soft. There will be a bit of club changing.'
After 15 years of weekend coverage on ABC, the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship will be televised by CBS Sports. The LPGA Tour's first major of the year will begin March 30 and end April 2, the Sunday between the NCAA Final Four semifinals and the championship game. The talent has not been determined. CBS Sports televises its showcase golf event the following week at the Masters. ... The Nationwide Tour Championship is moving out of Alabama. It will be held at the Houstonian Golf and Country Club in Houston next year, and Barona Creek Golf Club in San Diego in 2007. ... Five players already have earned more in the silly season than Nick Price, who finished 125th on the PGA Tour money list. ... John Daly will be playing in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, his first trip to the Middle East.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Twenty-five years after he first led the PGA Tour in driving distance at 274.3 yards, Dan Pohl became the first Champions Tour player to average more than 300 yards off the tee (300.5 yards).
'In my wildest dreams, I could never imagine winning this many times and this many majors in my 20s.' -- Tiger Woods, who has won 46 times and 10 majors. He turns 30 on Dec. 30.
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