For the first time in his 10 years on tour, Woods took his 2-iron out of the bag and replaced it with a 5-wood for the first round of the Tour Championship.
``He did what?'' Kenny Perry said. ``That's shocking. He hits the best 2-iron out here. He must be getting old.''
Woods started experimenting with a 5-wood during a practice round at Firestone more than two months ago, saying it might come in handy at certain courses where he is at distances between his 2-iron and 3-wood, and depending on the shape of the hole. He worked with a few clubs, and settled on an older version of a Nike T40.
Woods only used it once Thursday, hitting it into the right bunker on the par-4 12th hole.
``I got ahead of that one, and started it a little farther right then I wanted,'' he said. ``But the flight was fine.''
He has said he could have used a 5-wood during the PGA Championship at Baltusrol, particularly on the par-5 17th hole where he either had to hammer a 2-iron and let up on a 3-wood, and often got in trouble.
What made East Lake a good place to experiment?
``I thought about No. 9 (a 600-yard hole) because if you get a downhill lie, I can't hit my 2-iron and stop it on that green,'' Woods said. ``And if we get any wind on 18, it's perfect for a 5-wood. Otherwise, I just hit 3-iron.''
Woods has used the same lineup in his bag since he joined the PGA Tour in August 1996 -- driver, 3-wood, 2-iron through wedge, two sand wedges and a putter.
Whether he uses it more next year depends on the course. Asked about the Masters, Woods considered the extra length on the par-3 fourth hole, which now plays 240 yards.
``It might not be bad on No. 4,'' he said.
FULFILLING A WISH:
Kenny Perry had one of the best experiences of his life during his three weeks at home in Kentucky. He was contacted by friends of a 25-year-old man who is suffering from cystic fibrosis and wanted nothing more than to play golf with him.
``His dying wish was to meet me and play two holes,'' Perry said.
About two weeks ago, Perry drove to Bowling Green and played The Course at Olde Stone, designed by Arthur Hills and rated among the finest in the area.
``We played the eighth and ninth holes. The kid was smiling the whole way around,'' Perry said. ``It was one of the biggest honors of my life.''
When they finished, Perry said they went to the clubhouse and talked for more than two hours.
Perry did not remember his last name, but ``I say a prayer for him every night.''
With all the buzz about the FedEx Cup in the new 2007 season, Fred Funk is more interested in some of the other cups on the golfing landscape.
Like the Ryder Cup. Or maybe even the Presidents Cup.
And most definitely, the Charles Schwab Cup on the Champions Tour.
Funk has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour because of his victory in March at The Players Championship, but not even a playoff-system on tour that could offer as much as $10 million to the winner of the FedEx Cup interests him.
He turns 50 in June, and expects to start spending time with guys his own age.
``I want to play in the Senior U.S. Open,'' he said. ``And I might want to play in the Senior British Open. But a lot of it depends on how I'm doing. If I have a shot at the Ryder Cup, I'll definitely come home and play Milwaukee.''
Funk is No. 10 in the Ryder Cup standings, but the points are weighted far more heavily in 2006.
``It is so much fun being part of those teams,'' said Funk, who has played on U.S. teams for the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup the last three years.
The Tour Championship is using Coca-Cola bottles as the tee markers because the Atlanta-based company is a presenting sponsor. ... The $6.5 million purse is being distributed slightly differently because Phil Mickelson decided not to play, making it only a 29-man field. Last place now is worth $105,300. Mickelson will not receive any official or unofficial money. ... Davis Love III made his 15th start in the Tour Championship, most of any other player since it began in 1987.