Notes Tiger vs Vijay Match Looming at Presidents Cup

RSS

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods have been battling for No. 1 all year, mostly on paper through the world golf ranking. They didn't meet in the Match Play Championship, and rarely do the top two players meet in the final group of a major, or any PGA Tour event.
 
That's what could make the Presidents Cup so appealing.
 
Instead of a blind draw, Sunday singles matches work like a draft, with the captains taking turns putting their players in the lineup. A good show usually takes precedence over strategy, which leads to compelling matches. Nick Price was No. 1 in the world in 1994 when he played the best American, Fred Couples. Woods faced Greg Norman in 1998 at Royal Melbourne in Australia, and he played Ernie Els two years ago at Fancourt in South Africa.
 
Now that the matches are back in America, Sept. 22-25 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in northern Virginia, it would seem logical for the captains to put Woods and Singh together.
 
``I don't know what the players want to do,'' U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus said. ``We discussed it down there (South Africa) that Ernie wanted to play Tiger, and Tiger wanted to play Ernie. We thought it was the right thing for that venue. We'll have to wait and see.''
 
There already is one vote for a Woods-Singh match.
 
``I'd love to have it,'' Woods said. ``That would be fun. I've never been one to back off a challenge. I think he would want to play me.''
 
They were the featured match at RTJ in 2000, the year Singh won the Masters and Woods won the other three majors. Making that match even more memorable was that Singh's caddie, Paul Tesori, playfully wrote ``Tiger Who?'' on his cap. Woods took it personally.
 
Both players refused to concede 2-foot putts, and Woods won, 2 and 1.
 
Tesori is back on the bag for Singh, prompting Woods to say, ``Maybe I should write 'Tiger Who?' on my cap.''
 
Nicklaus says he usually lets the players decide whom they want to play, although that wasn't the case in Australia, where the International team won handily.
 
The natural fit was Woods-Norman, but Nicklaus said the Shark wanted no part of Woods that year. Norman had only been playing one month after missing most of the year with shoulder surgery, and International captain Peter Thomson tried to honor the request.
 
``Tiger told me, 'I want Greg if you can get him,''' Nicklaus said. ``Thomson said, 'Greg asked me to stay away from him, and I said, 'Well, you do the best you can to keep him away, and I'll do the best I can to get him.' That's what my guy asked me to do.''
 
Woods outlasted Norman, 1 up, although the International team had already won the cup.
 
MONTY'S DROP
Arjun Atwal signed for a 74 in the final round of the Memorial when he was asked about an overseas event he played in March, which was otherwise insignificant except for one detail.
 
Atwal and Thongchai Jaidee played with Colin Montgomerie during the first two rounds of the Indonesian Open, where Monty failed to mark his ball during a rain delay, then replaced it the next morning in a better position.
 
Montgomerie conceded it was a bad drop when he review videotape some six weeks after the tournament, donating his prize money to tsunami relief. Some believe he should have been disqualified. Ultimately, his fourth-place finish at the Indonesian Open enabled him to qualify for the U.S. Open by a fraction of a world ranking point.
 
What exactly happened?
 
``It was Friday, and he was struggling to make the cut,'' Atwal said. ``The two of us hit it on the green. His ball was not in a bunker, but in the (grass) face of a bunker. His stance was almost in the sand, but in the grass, and he was falling backward when he got over it.
 
``He stood up there, fell backward once, then saw lightning. They hadn't blown the horn yet, and he just walked off. He was like, 'Forget this, I'm not going to hit this shot.'''
 
When play resumed the next morning, Monty's ball was gone, and he called over Atwal and Jaidee as he tried to sort out where his ball was in the rough.
 
``He was like, 'You think right about here?' And we're like, 'Yeah, sure.' I mean, what am I going to say, or Thongchai, to Colin?'' Atwal said. ``I have no idea whether he improved it or not, because I didn't check his original lie. Guys don't look at other guys' lies. We marked our ball, and by the time we turned around, he had left.''
 
Atwal, in his second year on the PGA Tour, said he would be surprised if Montgomerie purposely improved his lie.
 
``He knows the cameras are always on him, and people are always watching,'' Atwal said.
 
O'HAIR PEDIGREE
Sean O'Hair turned pro a year before he got out of high school, and much has been made of his father's influence on a career that nearly crashed.
 
Still, the kid always had the ability.
 
Thumbing through the record books, one can find O'Hair, 16, winning the Junior PGA Championship in 1998 at Palm Beach Gardens, closing with a 67 for a one-shot victory over Nathan Fritz. Also in the field that year were a pair of future U.S. Amateur champions (Bubba Dickerson tied for seventh, Ricky Barnes tied for 14th), and a U.S. Public Links Amateur champion (Brandt Snedeker finished 18th).
 
``I was the second-ranked junior in the country at one point,'' O'Hair said. ``But my junior career was very short. I stopped playing when I was 16, and just started playing mid-amateur events and qualifiers for the Nike Tour. I still had two more years left.''
 
DIVOTS
The Royal & Ancient accepted a record 2,499 entries for the British Open, to be played July 14-17 at St. Andrews. The previous record was 2,481 in 2000, the last time the Open was played at St. Andrews. ... Mike ``Fluff'' Cowan, the caddie for Tiger Woods when he won the Masters by 12 shots and for Jim Furyk when he won the U.S. Open, will be among five people inducted Sept. 9 into the Maine Golf Hall of Fame. ... Two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North has received a special exemption to the U.S. Senior Open.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Christina Kim is the ironwoman on the LPGA Tour, the only player to have competed in all 12 tournaments this year.
 
FINAL WORD
``When I retire, I'm not going to say the trees were bigger when I used to play.'' -- Brad Faxon, on past generations complaining how much tougher they had it in their era.