Notes A Trip Down Under Tigers Faithful Putter


SAN FRANCISCO -- The Presidents Cup made huge strides this year, from the high level of play that kept the matches close from the start to the dramatic finish when Chris DiMarco made the winning putt on the 18th hole of the final singles match.
American players wanted to be on this team, and it showed.
The next test for this 12-year-old event is how far Americans are willing to travel.
The Presidents Cup will be held at Royal Montreal in 2007, which is a shorter trip than going to the West Coast, and the prevailing sentiment is to return to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in 2009.
After that, it could be headed Down Under.
Australian officials met with the PGA Tour brass during the Presidents Cup with hopes of getting the matches in 2011, the next available date on foreign soil. One group was from New South Wales, and the other was from Victoria.
``Both met with us, and they would very much like to sit down with us about having the Presidents Cup in 2011,'' said Mike Bodney, the tour's senior vice president of championship management.
Bodney said it was too early to decide where the Presidents Cup is headed. Tour officials would like to plan further out than two years, without getting too far into the future like the Ryder Cup (get your tickets now to the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits).
The Americans had their worst loss in team competition at Royal Melbourne in 1998, in part because the matches were staged on the other side of the world two weeks before Christmas. The fallout was felt for five years, and some U.S. players were far from enthused about going to South Africa in 2003 until they got there.
Bodney said if the Presidents Cup went back to Australia, it would be held not much later than Thanksgiving.
And there is no shortage of great courses, especially in Melbourne, which has perhaps the best collection of championship courses of any city in the world -- Royal Melbourne, Metropolitan, Kingston Heath, Yarra Yarra, Huntingdale and Victoria, to name a few.
New South Wales Golf Club also was mentioned, but Bodney said while it was one of the more spectacular courses in the world, its cramped space might not allow it to stage the Presidents Cup.
The Australian also was raised as a possibility.
Tour officials plan to meet this month to review the last Presidents Cup and figure out where it is headed -- not only golf courses, but the next captains.
In the last three years, Tiger Woods has changed to the Nike golf ball ('00 Memorial), the Nike driver ('02 Pebble Beach), the Nike irons ('02 American Express), the Nike wedges ('03 American Express) and the Nike 3-wood ('05 Doral). The last trace of Titleist in his bag is the putter.
Woods has had the same Scotty Cameron model in his bag for seven years, and it might not be going anywhere soon.
``I tested a bunch of putters,'' he said last week at a Nike news conference in Las Vegas. ``It's just go hard to get my gamer out of there. I won nine majors with it now, and it seems to be working. I have tried other putters, and some of the putters do feel better than mine. But coming down the stretch on Sunday, and I know I need to make a putt, I know the putter has done it. I'm just afraid to get it out of the bag.''
Some players have hundreds of putters in their garage. Some go through four in one week.
Woods is cut from the Bob Charles cloth.
He spoke to the '63 British Open champion at St. Andrews this year and asked how long Charles had used the same bulls-eye putter.
``He said, 'About 52 years,''' Woods said. ``He said, 'I tried other putters. They felt better. I have putted better with them. But if I knew I had to make a putt, this one has done it.'
``I kind of understand,'' Woods said.
Jay Haas has gone a dozen years without winning, but his trophy case is hardly suffering.
The latest honor for Haas is the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor by the USGA that recognizes distinguished sportsmanship. The USGA will present him the award Feb. 4 at its annual meeting in Atlanta.
The 51-year-old Haas has won nine times on the PGA Tour, and he has played well enough to be a captain's pick for the '03 Presidents Cup and '04 Ryder Cup, making him the oldest player in Ryder Cup history.
The Golf Writers Association of America honored him in April with the Jim Murray Award for his cooperation with the media, and the PGA Tour gave him the Payne Stewart Award last year for the way he upholds the traditions of golf.
The Tommy Bahama Challenge has a new lineup and a new format.
Zach Johnson is the only player returned in the silly-season event that features players 30 and under, joined on the U.S. team by Ben Crane, Ryan Moore and Arron Oberholser. They will play an International team of Tim Clark (South Africa), Geoff Ogilvy (Australia), Justin Rose (England) and South Korean-born Kevin Na.
Instead of a medal-match format, the one-day event will be match play. If there's a tie, the captains will align their teams for an alternate-shot, sudden-death playoff. Players on the winning team each get $100,000, while the losing players each get $70,000. Also, the winners of each match will play off for a Mercedes ML500 SUV and $20,000.
The tournament will be played Nov. 8 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., and broadcast Jan. 2.
Steve Williams is back to work as Tiger Woods' caddie, having missed the Presidents Cup because his fiancee was expecting their first child. A son they named Jett Baillie was born Sept. 26. No pictures were immediately available. ... Ryan Moore tied for 34th in Greensboro and made $24,714. That gives him $545,716, equivalent to No. 126 on the money list. Moore's earnings at the end of the year have to be at least equal to No. 125 on the money list for him to earn his PGA Tour card. ... Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson will represent the United States in the World Cup, to be played Nov. 17-20 in Portugal.
Darren Clarke and Ernie Els are the only European tour members to have won a World Golf Championship event that counts toward official money.
``Now that they have the Presidents Cup, the Solheim Cup and the Walker Cup, it gives them an incentive to win the Ryder Cup, and we wish them well. It could be a competition. The last one wasn't, was it?'' -- Colin Montgomerie.