NOTES Olympic Push Tiger Trends Whos No 3

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem cant think of a better scenario when the International Olympic Committee meets a year from October. Golf is added to the summer program. Chicago is announced as host city for 2016. And Tiger Woods is going strong and eager to add a gold medal to his trophy collection.
 
Thats still a long way off, but Finchem said Tuesday that golf made a strong first impression in an informal meeting last week with IOC president Jacques Rogge.
 
Finchem was joined by European Tour chief George OGrady, LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens, USGA executive director David Fay and Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson. They were told the steps leading to the IOC decision next October and what golf executives have to do to make their case.
 
It was important that the IOC saw the game was united, which I think they were impressed with, Finchem said. That got accomplished. Its a long way, and we have other sports competing for the same spots. We like to think were what they want because were a sport thats universal.
 
Woods gives a boost to any tournament, although any involvement in the Olympics would be short-lived. Woods will be 40 in 2016, the earliest golf could be part of the Olympics.
 
Chicago is the U.S. city under consideration for 2016, and Finchem was quick to note that Woods has a strong history in Chicago, where he has won two PGA Championships and four PGA TOUR events.
 
His knee aside, hes such a good athlete, youve got to believe hes going to be competitive, Finchem said. And theres a lot of interest in whether he plays. But the bigger question is the long-term role of golf in the Olympics.
 
He also mentioned a long list of courses Chicago can offer.
 
The biggest obstacle will be scheduling Olympic golf among the last two majors and the tours FedExCup finale. Finchem suggested one possibility of the men and women competing over separate weeks. The four playoff events for the FedExCup already are being rearranged this year for the Ryder Cup, and Finchem says they will work even into the early part of football season.
 
Were not really doing it for golf in the U.S. anyway, he said. Its for growing the game around the world and something we can all do together. The value for the players is that the more people that play around the world, the more people will be watching. Theyll be paid back eventually.
 
TIGER TRENDS
Golf research guru Tom Ierubino, former managing editor at Golf Magazine, came up with some historical nuggets that dont bode well for Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open.
 
The previous nine U.S. Opens in California (Riviera, Olympic Club, Pebble Beach) were won by nine players.
 
And while no one has won multiple majors in the Golden State, some of the games greatest players have come hauntingly close upon their return.
 
Ben Hogan won in 1948 at Riviera, and the next U.S. Open in California was at The Olympic Club in 1955, where Hogan famously lost a playoff to Jack Fleck.
 
Jack Nicklaus won at Pebble Beach in 1972. The next time a U.S. Open was held in California, he finished second to Tom Watson at Pebble a decade later. After that two-shot victory in 1982, Watson next played a U.S. Open in California at Olympic Club, where he finished second to Scott Simpson.
 
Woods won the most recent U.S. Open in California at Pebble Beach in 2000. Next up is Torrey Pines.
 
For those curious about those other U.S. Open winners'Fleck, Billy Casper, Simpson, Tom Kite and Lee Janzen'none finished in the top 10 upon their Open return to California.
 
MIXED SIGNALS
Jack Nicklaus has been barking about technology for at least a decade, with seemingly no help from the USGA. But he took part in an announcement earlier this month when golfs governing body in the United States and Mexico announced it had signed its fourth corporate partner in the last 18 months.
 
He was asked about any perception that the USGA is more interested in getting corporate support than governing the game.
 
I wish I had a good answer to that, Nicklaus replied. I havent had a good answer from the USGA on it. I think their heart is in the right place. I dont think theyre trying to avoid being a good steward to the game. Theyre probably between a rock and a hard place.
 
Their efforts in the grassroots of the game, being involved in youth, certainly has been good, he said. They do so many good things. Its just the one thing they arent having success at is controlling the length of the golf ball.
 
WHOS NO. 3?
Tiger Woods has rendered moot the argument over whos No. 1, building a lead that is nearly double the points of Phil Mickelson at No. 2. But Mickelson is carving out a pretty strong niche at No. 2.
 
With his victory at Colonial, the points gap between Mickelson and Ernie Els at No. 3 is roughly equal to the gap between Els and Ben Curtis at No. 80.
 
DIVOTS
Steve Stricker has missed the cut six times this year, after missing the cut only six times the last two years combined. Stricker withdrew from the Memorial on Tuesday. Amanda Blumenherst of Duke was won the Dinah Shore Trophy as the female college golfer who has excelled on the course and the classroom. Blumenherst has won 11 times and maintained a 3.8 grade point average while majoring in history. Phil Mickelson joined Ben Hogan (1947) and Sam Snead (1950) as the only players to win at Colonial and Riviera in the same season. The AT&T Classic outside Atlanta, and opposite-field events in Mexico and Puerto Rico, are only PGA Tour events this year where the winner did not automatically qualify for the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone because of field-of-strength requirements.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
In the seven times that a stroke-play major was held on the same course of an official PGA TOUR event, only once was the lower score posted in a major'Steve Elkington (267) at Riviera in the 1995 PGA Championship. Corey Pavin won the Los Angeles Open earlier that year at 268.
 
FINAL WORD
Missing the cut on your home course has to be about as bad as it gets.'Ernie Els, who missed the cut at the BMW Championship for the first time since 1992. Els has a home at Wentworth and redesigned the West course.
 

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