Tiger and Friends


Yeah, yeah Sherwood Country Club was still recovering from a major summer grass planting and there a few too many tight lies. And yeah, yeah the Nos. 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 and 10 players in the world decided not to play.
But Tiger Woods won again and that is a great thing for his foundation which will receive his $1.35 million first place money.
The Target World Challenge will always have a big-time feel as long as Tiger Woods is involved and the purse remains one of the years biggest.
And, because of the kind of boutique nature of the event and the smallish crowds, this will always be the best place to get a good look at Woods and the rest of the field on the range and the course without having to stake out limited opportunities.
Following Thursdays first round, for instance, Padraig Harrington was the last guy on the range. There were about 20 people watching when he started doing his best Happy Gilmore imitation. Standing 10 yards behind his teed up golf ball, Harrington approached on the dead run and smashed drive after drive high into the early evening near darkness. It was a sight you will never see at a U.S. Open.
For his part, Woods made news early in the week with the announcement that he had re-upped with Nike. Neither Nike nor Woods people disclosed the particulars. But one highly-placed industry source told me that the word on the street was $25 to 30 million a year for five years. And, the source said, Woods was probably getting a percentage of sales and/or profits.
Nice work, if you can get it. The source also said that none of the analysts will be surprised if Woods gets a piece of the company when he does his next contract with Nike.
Woods teacher, Hank Haney, wasnt here this week. But when I contacted him, he told me he had been with Tiger at 17 tournaments this year. He said he expects to do a little skiing with Tiger later this month. And, Haney said, he and Woods already have discussed the things they think Woods needs to work on in 2007. Tiger, Haney said, will be thinking about these things even when he isnt playing or practicing.
Meanwhile Target defending champion Luke Donald admitted Wednesday Tiger is in the players heads even when he isnt in their heads. Remember when Woods dusted Donald in the final round of Augusts PGA Championship at Medinah?
Eyebrows were raised that day when Donald showed up for the final Sunday pairing with Woods wearing a red shirt. Red shirts, everybody knows, is the Sunday territory staked out by Woods.
Turns out Donald had decided his wardrobe for the week before the tournament began. Then he drew Woods Sunday. Bravely, he stayed with the red shirt.
I think if I changed my outfit it was almost like giving in to him (Woods) on the first hole, Donald said. It was nothing against Tiger. I wasnt trying to make a statement or anything. I thought if Id changed, Id already have lost.
First round leader Henrik Stenson told me Thursday why he has made an important change: He has talked Nick Faldos former caddie, Fanny Sunesson, out of retirement.
It wasnt easy, Stenson said. Shes all about winning.
Swedens Stenson, who has taken his card on the PGA Tour and says he will play steadily in the States next year from the Accenture Match play through the U.S. Open, reminded Sunesson that the next major championship in which she caddies for the winner will be her fifth.
Stensons next major will be his first. And the next major won by a European will be the first by a player from that continent in the 21st century.
It wont happen, by the way, if Tiger Woods has anything top do about it.

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