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School days on Saturday at Deutsche Bank

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DeutscheBank Logo 2007NORTON, Mass. – Tiger Woods has been wearing a Nike logo on the crest of his golf shirt ever since he turned professional 13 years ago. That will change Saturday at the Deutsche Bank Championship when the swoosh gives way to an “S.”

And no, “S” doesn’t stand for second place.

Nike is celebrating the start of college football season by having its players wear the logo of their alma mater. Woods will be wearing a white shirt with Stanford’s cardinal logo.

Stewart Cink had a yellow shirt draped over his shoulder with the Georgia Tech logo. Other players include Anthony Kim (Oklahoma), Lucas Glover (Clemson) and Justin Leonard (Texas). Paul Casey (Arizona State) had a shirt ready to go until he had to withdraw from the tournament with a rib injury.

No one was more fired up about the shirt quite like Kim, who made his decision to go to Oklahoma when he was taken to a football game during a recruiting trip.

“I’m not going to say it was my idea,” Kim said. “But I was the first to ask for that. And now it’s happened.”

As usual, Nike officials had to calm him down. Kim tried to talk the company into letting him wear a football jersey when he teed off Saturday.

“I wanted to wear Sam Bradford’s jersey,” Kim said.

Kim loves the idea so much he claims it might not have happened if not for him. He said he asked Nike if he could wear an OU shirt when he played the first round at Kapalua this year with Camilo Villegas (Florida) the day of the BCS championship game. Given the 24-14 victory by the Gators, it was probably a good idea that he didn’t.

And this can’t be a good sign for Oklahoma – Kim will be playing the first two rounds with Leonard, an All-American at Texas.

 


 

BIG EASY, HARD ROAD: It was three years ago when Ernie Els said he had a three-year plan to return to No. 1 in the world. It’s not going so great at the moment, as the Big Easy has fallen to No. 20.

“You still remember that?” Els said with a laugh.

The 39-year-old South African said he had a few life changes that he did not anticipate, including his disclosure a year ago that his son, Ben, was dealing with autism. Els moved his family from London to West Palm Beach, Fla., to get special care for his son.

“Going public with Ben was a big deal,” Els said. “I didn’t really realize it was going to be that big a deal, and I’ve really thrown new energy into this new project that we’re busy with. We want to build a nice center for autistic kids down there, basically a school in Florida. So I think that took a bit of time. The house move from England to Florida was another pretty big move.

“I don’t want to make too many excuses, but that kind of took a bit of energy.”

Asked about Els’ three-year plan, Woods took more into account that Els was trying to recover from knee surgery in 2005.

“It takes time,” Woods said. “Ernie is not a big worker physically, and that’s one of the things that you have to do with an ACL repair, is you’ve got to really do a lot of work. I feel pretty good with what I’ve done, and I think Ernie, he could have worked a little bit harder.”

However, Woods said that’s not as easy for someone like Els, who plays more golf around the world than any other player.

“He plays all over the place,” Woods said. “Ernie is starting to put it together a little bit. We all know he’s got the talent. We’ve seen it. It’s just a matter of him getting the confidence in what he’s doing.”

 


 

COMMON BONDS: With all of their success – the championships, the endorsements, the super-fabulous wives – Tiger Woods and Tom Brady share some experiences they’d rather forget.

“Blowing out ACLs is definitely not a bond you want,” said Woods, who’s recovering from torn knee ligaments, just like Brady.

Woods missed most of last year with torn ligaments in his left knee, and Brady went down in the first quarter of the New England Patriots’ season opener and missed the rest of the season. With the TPC of Boston just down the road from the Patriots’ home stadium, Woods was asked if he had any advice for Brady.

“You have to understand that you’ve done the legwork, you’ve busted your butt all these months to get to this position, which I know Tom has. He’s worked extremely hard,” Woods said. “For me it was about being out here and playing under the gun, on the back nine on Sunday, and see how it feels. The thing is about my sport is I can continue to get better as the year goes on.

“He’s going to continue to get hit pretty hard. That is always going to be the case for football players. … Hopefully Tom will continue to get better throughout the season.”

Despite the kind words, Woods was obviously still smarting from New England’s victory over his Oakland Raiders in a 2002 playoff game that turned against the Raiders when an apparent fumble by Brady was overruled by the now-infamous “Tuck Rule.”

“I’ve always admired him for what he’s done,” Woods said, smiling, “even though that ‘Tuck Rule’ got us.”

 


 

TOP 100: Pine Valley was rated the No. 1 golf course in the United States and the world in separate top 100 lists published in the October issue of Golf Magazine.

It is not unusual for the New Jersey club to be No. 1. What makes this list different is the 100 panelists, a collection from all walks of the golfing society – architects, photographers, major champions, Ryder Cup players, historians and a small group of people who simply love golf. The panelists come from 17 countries.

In the U.S. list of the top 100, Pine Valley was followed by Cypress Point, Augusta National, Shinnecock Hills, Pebble Beach, Oakmont, Merion, Sand Hills, National Golf Links and Bandon Dunes.

The world list goes Pine Valley, Cypress Point, Augusta National, St. Andrews, Royal County Down, Shinnecock Hills, Pebble Beach, Oakmont, Muirfield and Merion.


Woods attributed so many missed chances at Liberty National on putts that often broke multiple times before reaching the hole. He worked some on his short game during his three days at home, no more than usual.

“I really putted well on the weekend, I just didn’t make a lot of putts,” he said. “When you’re lipping out a lot of putts, you’re not putting poorly. Those greens were a tough read for a bunch of people.”

Woods has a hard time finding much fault with anything this year, except for not winning a major. His five victories are twice as much as anyone else, and he still holds the No. 1 stop in the FedEx Cup standings going into the second week of the playoffs.

The big surprise is Heath Slocum, who was planning a trip to Switzerland this week for the Omega Masters on the European Tour until he won last week at Liberty National. That moved him from second-to-last place at No. 124 to No. 3, right behind Woods and Stricker.

Players have been debating whether Slocum earned too many points, and they tried to balance his rocket rise with the notion that he did beat a field at The Barclays that included the top 124 players on the PGA Tour.

The top 100 qualified for the Deutsche Bank (minus Paul Casey, who is injured), and that number will be pared to the top 70 players in points going to the third round next week at the BMW Championship outside Chicago.

Woods is virtually a lock to at least contest for the $10 million prize that comes with the FedEx Cup, especially the way he has played over the last two months—two victories, two runner-up finishes.

“This last stretch, I think I’ve hit the ball pretty good,” Woods said. “I’ve putted well in stretches. Some people have alluded to other things, but that’s not too bad for my last four events. The overall year has been very consistent.”

He missed the FedEx Cup playoffs last year recovering from knee surgery. The last time he played the Deutsche Bank was in 2007, when he tied for second, four shots behind Phil Mickelson. Woods took nine more putts than Mickelson that day.

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