Tiger Augusta Singh and More

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods reached the century mark at the Bay Hill Invitational by making the cut for the 100th consecutive time on the PGA Tour.
 
Measuring that mark is a matter of perspective.
 
Byron Nelson holds the record with 113 consecutive cuts in the 1940s. Jack Nicklaus made the cut 105 straight times in the early 1970s.
 
What makes Woods' mark so misleading is the number of PGA Tour events that don't even have a cut -- the three World Golf Championships, the season-ending Tour Championship and the winners-only Mercedes Championships.
 
The PGA Tour counts cuts as playing every eligible round and making money.
 
In tournaments that have a cut, Woods' streak is at 74, which still would rank fourth in tour history (Hale Irwin made 86 cuts in a row in the mid-70s).
 
''I'll tell you one thing, it's not as impressive as what Byron's done,'' Woods said. ''Granted, the fields weren't as deep and the cuts were not as low, but the fact he had to be in the money and finish top 10 every week ... he did that for 113 straight tournaments?''
 
In Nelson's era, making the cut meant making money. Except for the majors a few other events, no more than the top 20 finishers got paid. Nelson never finished lower than a tie for 17th during the eight years of his streak.
 
Woods said the best way to regard his streak is a ''reflection of the times.''
 
''The fields are that much deeper,'' he said. ''We get more events that are no-cut, but we have to go so much lower. You can't afford to shoot a bad round.''
 
In some respects, Woods' streak might be even more impressive. Among active players, the closest anyone has come was Vijay Singh, who made 53 consecutive cuts from 1995-98.
 
Unless Woods adds another tournament to his schedule, and assuming he keeps playing well, he would break Nelson's record at the Tour Championship -- which has no cut.
 
Augusta Changes
 
The deep fairway bunkers that have been extended 80 yards toward the fifth green isn't the only change at Augusta National.
 
The ninth green has been slightly altered to accommodate a new hole location, and players can thank Tiger Woods for that.
 
Woods said he had a ''great conversation'' with Masters chairman Hootie Johnson about the ninth green.
 
''The top shelf was getting to be too small,'' Woods said. ''I said, 'You could make a great hole location by flattening it out.' He left me a voice message to say he had done that.''
 
Indeed, club officials say when they re-sodded the ninth green last summer, the back shelf was extended 6-to-8 feet, allowing for one or two new pin placements.
 
A Real Hazard
 
The PGA Tour's solution to low scores and the long ball has been hole locations cut three paces from the side of the greens, and making the putting surfaces as firm as the weather allows.
 
A more subtle change has been the bunkers.
 
Tour officials told players in a recent meeting that they no longer are tamping down the sand to make it firm and uniform. Softer sand leads to more plugged lies, and it's never easy to get those shots close to the hole.
 
''It makes them more of a hazard,'' Jeff Sluman said. ''You get frustrated when it happens, but nobody said the bunkers were supposed to be uniformly perfect.''
 
Long Layoff
 
Vijay Singh ended the longest layoff of his PGA Tour career when he tied for 20th in the Bay Hill Invitational, his first tournament since Pebble Beach.
 
He said he suffered a stress fracture in the rib caused over the time, with a five-hour session on the range at Torrey Pines inflicting the final blow.
 
When was the last time he missed five weeks?
 
''Forever,'' he said. ''I don't think I've ever done that my whole, entire life.''
 
He didn't catch cabin fever during the layoff. Singh tended to his garden at home in Ponte Vedra Beach, and also relaxed with his wife and son.
 
''I was being a family man for a change, and I haven't done that for a while,'' he said. ''It was nice seeing my boy going to school and seeing him come back, eating dinner with my wife, watching TV with the family.
 
''It was hard the first few weeks. I wanted to play,'' he said. ''After a while, you kind of get used to it. You get so comfortable staying home and doing nothing.''
 
On The Spot
 
Brad Faxon never dreamed the toughest question he faced at Bay Hill would come during the junior clinic he hosted on the eve of the tournament.
 
Faxon asked if there were any questions when a young girl raised her hand and asked why the men's game was more popular than the women's game.
 
''She was sitting right next to her mother, who was beaming,'' Faxon said. ''I said, 'That's a good question. ... You ever hear of Tiger Woods?'''
 
Faxon made a nice recovery.
 
''I don't know, but I have some ideas about it,'' he told her. ''Men's golf has been around longer than ladies' golf. We have the most popular athlete in the world playing our sport. I think corporate America started with men's golf and it's grown that way.
 
''I don't know if that's right, and I'm sorry to say I don't think it will ever catch up. That's just the way it is.''
 
Tidbits
 
Even though the PGA Tour signed up title sponsors through the next TV contract, it is still feeling the effects of a tough economy. EMC, one of sponsorship cornerstones of the World Golf Championships, has withdrawn as title sponsor of the World Cup. The tour has asked IMG for help in finding a replacement. ... The PGA Grand Slam of Golf will be played Dec. 4-6 at Poipu Bay in Hawaii. The tournament for the four major championship winners had been scheduled for Dec. 15-17. ... Renee Powell, the second black woman to compete on the LPGA Tour, will receive the 2003 PGA First Lady of Golf Award on June 4 during the Senior PGA Championship.
 
Stat of the Week
 
Fulton Allem has not qualified for a major championship since the 1995 U.S. Open. He is in The Players Championship through a 10-year exemption from winning the 1993 World Series of Golf.
 
Final Word
 
''You get something to eat, hang out with the guys and listen to some stories we've all told 10 times over.''
-- Ernie Els, on what he does during a rain delay.