Tiger Returning at Match Play

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The momentum continues to build for Tiger Woods to choose to end his hiatus from competitive golf at the end of this month at the WGC-Accenture Match Play near Tucson. At least its building on the Tucson end of things.
 
One word, Michael McMahon, general manager of this year's Match Play site, the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, told GolfChannel.com when asked why Woods would come all the way out from Florida for an event in which he potentially can be eliminated from after one day. Accenture.
 
Yes, Accenture is one of Woods sponsors.
 
I think they (Accenture) are putting heat on him (Woods) to the extent that anybody can put heat on Tiger, McMahon said.
 
Now, a little about the golf course: The newly-minted Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, which opened for play just 17 days ago, can be stretched to 7,850 yards. That, according McMahon, is the longest ever on the PGA Tour.
 
It should be noted that the PGA Tour media guide lists the distance at this par-72 track at 7,466 yards. McMahons numbers are from the back of the backs.
 
It should also be noted that the new Jack Nicklaus design is highlighted by the drivable par-4 15th. It comes at a stage in the round where, more often than not, matches are still in doubt. The elevation in the nearest town of Marana, Ariz., is close to 2,000 feet which adds approximately five percent of distance because of the thinner air. Simply put, a 180-yard shot in Marana plays more like a 171-yard shot at a course closer to sea level
 
More than a few players were unhappy with the infrastructure at the Gallery at Dove Mountain, the site of the last two WGC-Match Plays. The Ritz Carlton complex, even though the hotel doesnt open until October, was built with big events in mind.
 
If Tiger shows, the venue will even be able to handle the stampede of reporters that will inevitably show up to record his return from knee surgery. The media center is 50,000 square feet.
 

 
MORE CHANGES: World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa, before she departed from the Annika Celebration in Orlando earlier this week, revealed pertinent details of her early-season schedule, her off-season swing changes and her post-season wedding plans.
 
For the second straight year, Ochoa will skip the LPGAs first event of the 2009 schedule, the SBS Open at Turtle Bay, Feb. 12-14. Ochoa will begin her LPGA campaign two weeks after that in Thailand at the Honda LPGA Thailand followed by the HSBC Womens Champions in Singapore.
 
Two weeks after that the women are in Mexico from where they go to the Phoenix area. Then its on to the years first major, where Ochoa will defend at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Ochoa plans to play all three of those.
 
She has completed much of her off-season work with her coach in Mexico, former PGA Tour player Rafael Alarcon. Last year it was mostly short game work in the off-season. This time they worked on strengthening Ochoas left hand on the grip.
 
Its a little stronger position and it helps me a lot with my backswing, my takeaway, Ochoa said.
 
Helps how?
 
Im trying to keep my backswing in a better line, she explained. Sometimes I cross the line. This (stronger left hand grip) gives me a better position at the top to be more consistent.
 
Ochoa also said she is in the process of switching to a Ping Piper putter. Its a little bigger, she said. And I think that will help me have a better stroke ' more on line.
 
Im excited about the changes, she said. Right now I need to play some more golf before my season starts. But I think Im going in the right direction.
 
In 2007 Ochoa ranked 51st in driving accuracy. That rank dropped to T100 in 2008. Two years ago she was 25th in putting average. Last year she was 32nd. She won five of her first six events in 2008, but only one more after May.
 
On the wedding front, she has appointed her sister, Daniela, as her wedding planner. I just told her to do a great job and I will be there, said Ochoa, who plans a full schedule of tournament golf before the December nuptials.
 
Ochoa is engaged to be married to Andres Conesa, the director general of Aeromexico airlines, one of Ochoas sponsors.
 

 
CUTTING EDGE: The stock of teacher Adam Schriber continues to grow. Schriber has coached LPGA player Candie Kung and rising PGA Tour star Anthony Kim for years. More recently former Kraft Nabisco champion Morgan Pressel joined his stable.
 
Schriber, who works out of Crystal Mountain in Michigan, is a big believer in physical training that fits the player. In fact, he insists on it. Not all exercises are good for all golfers.
 
To that end, Schriber has hooked up with noted trainer Chris Welch, an expert in biomechanical analysis. One of the services Welch performs is intriguing. If he accepts you into his program, you can send Welch a video of your swing, and he will analyze it. Then he will develop a workout regimen specifically tailored to optimizing your swing.
 
On March 14, Schriber; Kung; Welch; and Brad Dean, Schribers boss at Crystal Mountain, will put on the first annual Michigan junior golf day at Michigan State University.
 

 
PET PEEVE OF THE WEEK: I think range finders are terrific. They are increasingly accurate as the technology improves, seemingly by the week. And you can make a good argument that they promote faster play.
 
But they arent for everybody. I have been playing long enough to have incorporated finding my own yardage (by stepping it off from a marked sprinkler head) into my pre-shot routine. Its a comfort zone thing and it keeps me more engaged in the process of making my next shot.
 
Now I inevitably, and unsolicited, receive yardages from someone in my group who, while trying to be friendly, is really not doing me any favors.
 
Thanks. But no thanks.
 
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