NOT OUT OF THE WOODS: Jack Nicklaus said Friday that if Tiger Woods is to ever break his record of 18 professional major championship victories [he's currently four back], 2010 would be a very important year for him. Three of the four majors this season are played on courses on which Woods has previously won at least one championship: Augusta National, Pebble Beach and St. Andrews.
The odds of Woods winning at least a pair of majors this year were better than Charlie Sheen donning a pair of handcuffs. Were being the operative word. After Woods' world came unravelled Thanksgiving weekend, who knows if he'll even play in two majors. Here's guessing he'll compete in all four and still win at least two. It's hard to imagine even personal turmoil can impede Woods' drive to surpass Nickalus for golf's greatest record.
DEFENSE! DEFENSE!: Geoff Ogilvy defended his title at the PGA Tour's season-opening SBS Championship. Ogilvy finished one shot in front of Rory Sabbatini, shooting rounds of 69-66-68-67 to finish at 22 under par. It's the Aussie's seventh career Tour title.
Of those seven wins, six have come in the first three months of the season. His lone victory past March was the 2006 U.S. Open [not a bad one to have]. Can Ogilvy end the trend with a mid- or late-season win? I'm saying yes, perhaps at another limited-field event in April. And I know a little something.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?: Twenty-eight of the 31 winners from last year competed in the PGA Tour's 2010 season-opener. That number, however, included only one player who had previously won at Kapalua [Ogilvy] and did not include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson.
If you thought this year's lid-lifter had a weak field, don't blame the players – at least not those who won last year. Considering Woods and Mickelson were never going to tee it up in Maui, regardless of home life, SBS got nearly 100 percent participation. It's just that Martin Laird, Nathan Green and Pat Perez filled spots normally reserved for the likes of Vijay Singh, Jim Fuyrk and Sergio Garcia. Expect more of the same in 2010. Liking parity is OK. It doesn't make you a commie.
GLOVE-R DOESN'T FIT: Lucas Glover held the outright lead through each of the first three rounds of the SBS Championship, including a three-stroke advantage at the midway point. The reigning U.S. Open champion, however, closed in 3-over 76 to finish in a tie for 14th.
Just goes to show that regardless of your resume it's never easy to close out a win in professional golf. Glover's not a fluke major champion, but he's got a ways to go before he will be considered an imposing force on the PGA Tour.
YOU'RE SO VAIN: Tiger Woods was featured shirtless on the cover of the February edition of Vanity Fair, which went on sale Wednesday. The photos were from a 2006 shoot with famed photographer Annie Leibovitz and accompanied an article by Pulitzer Prize winning author Buzz Bissinger. The story was not an interview with Woods, but an essay by Bissinger. Meanwhile, alleged Woods mistress Jamie Grubbs posed for the February issue of Maxim magazine.
Grubbs – who released the Tiger voicemail, if you forget which one she was – also talked about their relationship on the magazine's Web site, saying that if she could tell Woods just one thing it would be 'that he hurt me.' Remember that scene in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life where the impossibly fat man eats an entire menu's worth of food, but doesn't explode until taking a bite of a 'wafer-thin mint?' After feeding on this scandal to nauseating proportions, that quote was the mint.
A LITTLE CHILLY IN HERE: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem met with the media for the first time in 2010 Tuesday in Maui. Normally a laid-back session, Finchem faced questions about a perceived weak field at the winners-only event, the future of sponsors on the PGA Tour, whether he had talked to Tiger Woods, the effectiveness of Tour drug testing, and whether he was concerned about Woods' relationship with a doctor linked to performance-enhancing drugs.
Finchem normally faces Lilliputian opposition during press conferences, but he was pushed a little in this one. Exchanges even became a bit testy at times. Note to self: If I ever need to borrow money from Finchem, don't bring up Tiger Woods or doping.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Caddie and cancer survivor Greg Rita [shown above at last year's Players Championship] was robbed at gunpoint in his Jacksonville, Fla., home on New Year's Eve. ... PGA Tour players officially switched from 'U' grooves to 'V' grooves in their irons at the SBS Open. ... Michelle Wie is considering playing in the season-opening Honda PTT LPGA Thailand event in six weeks.
Fortunately, no one was seriously injured – though Rita's wife was hit in the head by a gun, according to reports – and three suspects were captured. ... If we're going to limit technological advancements in golf, we might as well go back to wooden woods. ... The more she plays, the better it is for the tour.