Woods Stars in Possibly Last Monday Night Golf


RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif. -- Tiger Woods is going from the Swilcan Bridge to the ``Battle at The Bridges,'' from golf's most traditional tournament to the ultimate hit-and-giggle.
And with that, the lights will go out on Monday Night Golf, at least for a while.
Eight days removed from his dominating British Open victory, Woods will be paired with John Daly against Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen in the third ``Battle at The Bridges'' on Monday night at the exclusive Bridges club north of San Diego where Mickelson is a member.
It's the seventh installment of made-for-TV golf exhibitions, which were started to get Woods on prime time.
``It's probably not going to continue in this concept,'' said tournament director Michael Stearns of IMG, the company that represents Woods. ``Tiger wants to take a little bit of a break.''
Stearns said there probably will be some sort of exhibition under the lights in the future, but added: ``We're not out looking for anything. We'll let it run it's course and start over again.''
Not only is this the final year of the contract with sponsor Lincoln Financial, but ratings have dropped since the format went away from head-to-head competition after Sergio Garcia beat Woods at Bighorn in 2000.
``He's been in every event since we started, he's newly married and he wants to take a break from a few of these things and focus back on his game, which is evident,'' Stearns said.
Woods wasn't available for comment before the final ``Battle at The Bridges,'' which is a best-ball match for 18 holes.
But after winning the British Open at St. Andrews, it's clear what he's focusing on. It was his second win in three majors this year, and the 10th of his career, leaving him eight behind Jack Nicklaus. He finished second in the U.S. Open.
So following up his second career British Open win with a silly season tournament might seem, well, just a little silly.
Organizers tried to get the Big Four for this year's exhibition, but Vijay Singh didn't want to play and Ernie Els pulled out. So they'll have three of the top five in the world rankings plus the ever-popular Daly -- and no real theme.
Except for maybe Woods himself.
Mickelson knows how focused Woods is right now.
``It looks like Tiger's game never really went anywhere, it is just that he came out awfully focused this year and has been playing very well and we will have our hands full with these two,'' Mickelson said.
In last year's Battle, Woods and Hank Kuehne beat Mickelson and Daly, 2 and 1.
``It looked like last year, John and I had a pretty good chance to win and we ended up giving it away and John turned me in as his partner and took Tiger,'' Mickelson joked. ``And I do not blame him. Tiger has won the Masters and the British Open now, but we had a good time last year.''
Said Daly: ``I mean, it is a privilege and an honor to play in this. It is a great golf course. I did not know I was going to get picked again and I feel very fortunate to play.''
ABC will broadcast the Battle live starting at 8 p.m. EDT, with ESPN2 picking up the first hour of the match.
The winners share $1 million and the losers split $400,000.
Mickelson lives just a few miles from the Bridges, where memberships start at $350,000. The course features dramatic terrain and takes its name from two bridges that span deep canyons.
Daly and Goosen had to fly in from Germany, where they played in the Players' Championship of Europe. Daly tied for third and Goosen missed the cut.
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