Notes Tigers Huge Impact Strickers Comeback

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PGA Tour (75x100)The HSBC World Match Play Championship does not pay appearance fees, although it would be easy to justify payment to Tiger Woods based on a new report.
 
Tom Cannon, dean of business at the University of Buckingham, says in his research for HSBC that Woods' presence in England and Ireland over the next three weeks will boost the golf economy by as much as 5 percent. Including press coverage, travel, sales of golf equipment and broadcast rights, Cannon estimated the total value on the core golf economy could be as high as $320 million.
 
'The size and reach of the Tiger economy is remarkable,' Cannon said. 'Drawing these figures together gives an astonishing picture not only of the impact of a single, outstanding sportsman but of the growing power and influence of sport and sporting celebrity.'
 
After the World Match Play, Woods will play the Ryder Cup in Ireland, then return to the London area for the American Express Championship.
 
STRICKER'S STIRRING COMEBACK
Steve Stricker went from desperation to disappointment, a wild swing in emotions that ultimately indicates a successful season.
 
Consider his toughest adjustment.
 
'It was weird to change your focus from trying to get into tournaments to trying to get on the Ryder Cup team,' he said.
 
Having failed to make it through Q-school, the only status Stricker had at the start of the year was as a past champion. That only got him into three tournaments the first 15 weeks of the season. Four months later, he did well enough in limited opportunities to finish 21st in the Ryder Cup standings and get serious consideration from Tom Lehman as a captain's pick.
 
Like others who got passed over, the disappointment has grown stronger as the Ryder Cup approaches. But at least Stricker has some perspective on how far he has come.
 
'I couldn't be that upset, not with the year I've had,' Stricker said.
 
His year isn't over. Stricker shot four rounds in the 60s and finished 10th in the Canadian Open. Not only was that his third consecutive top 10, he moved up to No. 36 on the money list with just over $1.6 million, nearly as much as he earned the last four years combined. An even stronger indicator of his play is that Stricker ranks fifth in scoring average.
 
Stricker's last victory was the Accenture Match Play Championship in Australia at the start of the 2001 season. He felt his game sliding a year later, and it fell off the map the next two years. The harder he worked, the more it seemed he went backward. The low point was not turning in his application for Q-school in 2004, then falling out of the top 150 by one spot in the final tournament.
 
'Going back to Q-school was a shot in the gut, a real wake-up call,' Stricker said.
 
He only made it to the final stage last year, but he was headed in the right direction. He finally broke through with a third-place finish in Houston, then followed that with a tie for sixth in the U.S. Open and a tie for second a week later at the Booz Allen Classic.
 
He wasn't eligible for any of the majors at the start of the year, but qualified for two -- tops 10s in the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship -- and couldn't qualify for the British Open because the 36-hole qualifier was rained out.
 
What also might have spurred him on was having another mouth to feed.
 
Stricker's wife, Nicki, gave birth to another daughter (Isabella) on May 10. She learned she was pregnant about the time he was getting for the second stage of Q-school. Their other daughter was born in August 1998, the year he finished 13th on the money list and was runner-up to Vijay Singh in the PGA Championship at Sahalee.
 
'Maybe we need more kids,' he said with a laugh.
 
Stricker and his wife joked during the offseason that he should try to get comeback player of the year, which would mean he at least earned his card for the '07 season. That now seems a lock.
 
And at 36th on the money list, the Tour Championship isn't out of the question.
 
YOUTH IS SERVED
The latest teenager to make a splash is Gipper Finau, a 16-year-old from Salt Lake City, who earned a spot in the Nationwide Tour event last week by shooting 63 in the Monday qualifier, then became the youngest player in that tour's history to make the cut with a 67 in the second round.
 
He finished at even-par 288 to tie for 58th among the 61 players who made the cut, turning heads along the way. Finau averaged 339.3 yards off the tee -- the highest average of any player this year in a Nationwide event -- and led the field with 24 birdies.
 
Finau, a junior at West High School, was the youngest player to make the cut in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event since 15-year-old Bob Panasik in the 1957 Canadian Open.
 
LPGA RACE
Cristie Kerr's victory turned the LPGA Tour's player-of-the-year award into a four-way race. Lorena Ochoa is still in control with 216 points, followed by Annika Sorenstam (194), Karrie Webb (184) and Kerr (174).
 
Sorenstam has won the award the last five years, and even though she is having to catch up, she likes her position. Sorenstam has finished first and second in her last two events, 'so I would say I'm ready.'
 
With 30 points available for winning, all it takes is one victory to put Sorenstam into the lead. And with the ADT Championship worth double points, the race could be decided in the final tournament of the year.
 
DIVOTS
Charlie Sifford has been selected to receive the Old Tom Morris Award, the most prestigious honor by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. ... The top five players from the Futures Tour money list earned LPGA Tour cards for 2007 -- Song-Hee Kim, Charlotte Mayorkas, In-Bee Park, Kristy McPherson and Meagan Francella. ... Peter Jacobsen's season on the Champions Tour most likely ended when he had surgery to replace his left hip over the weekend. Jacobsen said he expects to be out six to seven weeks, although he expects to be 'as good as new.' It was the fourth surgery in the last three years for Jacobsen, who said this about his hopes for 2007: 'I like to use 14 clubs, and I don't want one of them to be a scalpel.'
 
STAT OF THE WEEK, PART I
Paula Creamer used the phrase, 'I mean,' 12 times during her news conference at the John Q. Hammons Classic.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK, PART II
Michelle Wie used the phrase, 'You know,' 13 times during her news conference at the Women's British Open.
 
FINAL WORD
'There have been enormous galleries, which have been difficult to control. But I still think the worst crowd you can have is no crowd.' -- European Tour chief executive George O'Grady after Michelle Wie missed the cut at the Omega European Masters.
 
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