Notes Vijay Lefty Feud Jack at Masters

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Vijay Singh didn't like the length of Phil Mickelson's spikes at the Masters. And after playing with him the first two rounds of the FBR Open, he had questions about Lefty's driver.
 
Not only did Mickelson beat him by two shots each day, he routinely hit his tee shots beyond Singh. On average, he was 6.1 yards longer than Singh in the first round, and 15.4 yards longer than Singh on Friday.
 
When Mickelson showed up Saturday morning, the PGA Tour asked to test his Callaway FT3 driver to make sure it was under the limit for springlike effect. The driver passed the test.
 
A person involved with the tour said Singh asked for the driver to be tested. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the test is supposed to be confidential.
 
At least Singh was playing with Mickelson.
 
A year ago, Tom Pernice asked for Tiger Woods' driver to be tested after watching on TV as Woods routinely blasted it by Mickelson in the final round of the Ford Championship at Doral.
 
MASTER JACK
Jack Nicklaus received his annual invitation to play in the Masters early last month, a tradition that for him began in 1959. But this was the earliest he said no.
 
'I received a letter of invitation in early January and have already declined,' Nicklaus said.
 
Nicklaus ended his incomparable run in the majors at the British Open last year, and the only reason for him to take his clubs to Augusta National this year is for the Par 3 Tournament.
 
There was speculation last week about Nicklaus' plans, considering this is the 20-year anniversary of winning his sixth green jacket at age 46. He was quoted at the Champions Skins Game as saying he hasn't made up his mind what he was going to do at the Masters and 'I hope I'm smart enough not to take my golf clubs.'
 
Nicklaus, however, is only going to Augusta National for the Champions Dinner on Tuesday and the Golf Writers Association of America dinner Wednesday. He will not be part of the competition.
 
WESTERN FLAIR
In announcing a revamped schedule for 2007, the PGA Tour originally referred to events after the FedEx Cup as the 'Quest for the Card,' later changing it to the 'Fall Series.'
 
Perhaps another slogan it should consider is 'Go West, Young Man.'
 
Officials are closing in on deals that would bring two PGA Tour events to California in the fall of 2007. One tournament would be in Fresno at Running Horse Golf Club, which is being designed by Jack Nicklaus II and is scheduled to open this fall.
 
What makes it unique is that the charitable partner will be U.S. veterans. Running Horse spokesman Tim Ummel said a California Veterans Home is being built adjacent to the gated community, with U.S. and San Joaquin Valley veterans benefiting from the tournament.
 
'We'll honor a veteran every year, and we would like to tie this in to players with fathers or grandfathers who were veterans,' Ummel said.
 
Jack Nicklaus is helping his son with the course, and the Nicklaus clan was on site two weeks ago as plans for a PGA Tour event were coming together.
 
'Although the deal is not totally done, we like the way it's coming together,' PGA Tour spokesman Bob Combs said. 'And we like even more the potential for the event. We think the community support in Fresno and throughout the San Joaquin Valley is going to be absolutely tremendous.'
 
Ummel said Running Horse was negotiating with three potential title sponsors, and an announcement was expected next month at The Players Championship.
 
Also in the works is a tournament near San Jose, Calif., that would be sponsored by Fry's Electronics on a private course called The Institute, which is owned by Silicon Valley mogul John Fry. During the American Express Championship at Harding Park last October, a few players took part in an outing at The Institute. Fred Funk was said to have shot the lowest score (75) on a course that measured about 7,900 yards.
 
RORY ROARS BACK
Coming off his worst season since he was a PGA Tour rookie, Rory Sabbatini has made up ground quickly by sneaking into a couple of runner-up finishes. He shot 62 at Waialae and tied for second at the Sony Open, then closed with a 70 at Pebble Beach to finish second.
 
Now, the South African appears to be a shoo-in to get back to the Masters.
 
Sabbatini, who started the year at No. 71 in the world ranking, is all the way up to No. 33. He also is third on the money list with over $1.2 million. The top 50 in the world and top 10 on the money list after The Players Championship get into the Masters.
 
'It would be nice to get back,' Sabbatini said. 'I haven't had as much success there as I would like, but I think my mental game is ready for it now. I'm a lot more mature.'
 
Sabbatini has missed the cut the three previous times he has played Augusta National.
 
HAT TRICK
Loren Roberts has a chance to make Champions Tour history this week at the ACE Group Classic in Naples, Fla., where he will try to win the first three events of the year.
 
Only two other players have had that chance - Don January in 1981 and Larry Nelson in 2001, and both tied for eighth in the third tournament. Five other players have won three straight Champions Tour events, while Chi Chi Rodriguez holds the record by winning four straight times in 1987.
 
DIVOTS
Rory Sabbatini has started doing his own yardage to help him slow his pace of play. ... Phil Mickelson's caddie, Jim 'Bones' Mackay, was a late arrival to Pebble Beach. His wife gave birth to their second child, Emma Elizabeth, last Monday. ... Former USGA president Fred Ridley is the 2006 recipient of the PGA Distinguished Service Award, the organization's highest honor.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Three players in the top 10 of the U.S. Ryder Cup standings were not even among the top 30 when the PGA Tour season began six weeks ago.
 
FINAL WORD
'I've had a lot of humbling experiences in my life.' - Former President Clinton, after playing golf with Tiger Woods. Clinton didn't say what he shot, only that Woods beat him by 25.
 
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