Tiger Woods

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Phil Mickelson flashes across golfs sky once again like a meteor. And we pay strict attention.
 
But Mickelson is not the story of the day in his sport.
 
Lefty conducts a four-day clinic at the BellSouth in Atlanta: Off the charts statistics; 28 under par; 28th PGA Tour victory; and two drivers in the bag simultaneously, an equipment choice he promises to continue at this weeks Masters in Augusta.
 
And the ladies in the California desert upstage him.
 
Karrie Webb returns from a forgotten place and holes a wedge that disappears into the 72d hole from more than a 100 yards away moments after we hear her caddie, in a half whisper, pray for it to be the right club today.
 
Then Michelle Wie, Lorena Ochoa and Natalie Gulbis'playing in the same group, stir us with their attempts to join Webb in a playoff at the LPGAs first major of the year.
 
Wie, 16, and Gulbis, 23, both fall one shot short. Both are still looking for their first LPGA victory. We will be watching closely. How can we not?
 
Ochoa, 24, stripes a 5-wood from 223 yards away that stops 12 feet from the hole. She drains the eagle putt and instantly exorcises the demons that invaded her psyche last year, most notably at the U.S. Womenss Open.
 
Webb birdies the first playoff hole and makes us wonder where she had been. She had been written off by harsher critics. She is only 53 weeks older than Tiger Woods. And isnt his career just coming into full flower?
 
To be sure, whats coming into full flower, in case you hadnt noticed, is the bud that is womens golf. Annika Sorenstam, the best female player in the world, wasnt a factor Sunday in California and the Kraft Nabisco still gave us high drama, high quality golf and high network visibility.
 
We even got yet another great call from CBS announcer Verne Lundquist, who, it seems, manages to be on the mike whenever anything great happens in golf. How Do You Do, he shouted at precisely the right volume at precisely the right time after Webbs eagle wedge found the hole.
 
How do you do?
 
The LPGA does quite nicely for itself these days, thank you very much.
 
Even better for womens golf, their Sunday-beautiful-Sunday came the week after the men commanded golfs theater at The Players Championship and the week before the men demanded that same theater at this weeks Masters. It came in between the two biggest days of the year in college basketball. It was serendipitous.
 
And already there is a buzz in anticipation of the McDonalds LPGA in June followed, weeks later, by the U.S. Womens Open.
 
Will it be Wies time? Is all that quality range time Gulbis has been spending with Butch Harmon about to pay off in spades? Will Annika come roaring back? How much will all of this push Paula Creamer? Can Webb win another major (shes only two behind Sorenstam now with seven)?
 
These are just a few of the questions we are now asking about womens golf.
 
It wasnt all that long ago we were asking what was wrong with the LPGA.
 
Karrie Webb won the tournament Sunday in California.
 
Womens golf won the day.