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Now into the fourth week of the PGA TOUR schedule, its time for a little assessment and a little forward thinking.
 
The following is nothing more and nothing less than my random observations after three weeks on the Sprint Pre/Post Game desk including a week on the range at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic talking to several players.
 
  • It's great to have Tiger Woods back this week. Thats pretty obvious, huh? Woods drives the PGA TOUR and the PGA TOUR will shift into overdrive now that hes back. Interest peaks, and I think he cares far more about the consecutive PGA TOUR win streak than you might think. A win this week would be seven and his toughest challenge on the way toward Nelsons 11 will come at the Nissan Open which he has yet to win.
     
    Kapalua wasnt a given for Woods who didnt spend much Holiday time with the driver and 5-iron. The Buick Invitational has been a safe haven for Tiger ' hes won four times. And dating back to 1997, hes never finished outside the top 10 in his first start of the year.
     
  • Phil Mickelsons opening week isnt much to worry about. Hes determined to have a great year and I think hell get it. His karma at the Bob Hope Chrylser Classic wasnt all that great ' receiving many behind-the-back comments about not playing in the celebrity rotation, and about his off-season fitness that he says has allowed him to lose about 20 pounds and put 15 back on in muscle. Arnold Palmer was among many who said they didnt notice much. Truth be told, however, a few said that up close Phil did look more fit. Regardless, I expect at least two wins before the U.S. Open. I just hope hes not wearing those brown shoes when he does it.
     
  • Charley Hoffmans win Sunday at the Bob Hope Chrylser Classic showed a lot about the surfer-kids character down the stretch. Birdie, eagle finish ' are you kidding me? That wind was off the charts. Perhaps most impressive is this stat. Hoffmans win makes the number of PGA TOUR victories by former Nationwide Tour members stand at 198. Keep that in mind while watching Nationwide Tour coverage on the GOLF CHANNEL this year.
     
  • Watch out for Hoffman - 82nd on the PGA TOUR money list last year and hes motivated enough to chase a bigger prize than just a PGA TOUR win. Hoffman and others like him come to the big tour believing they can win, and perhaps make a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team. Glover didnt play well on Sunday in Palm Springs but hes already won and has proven worthy of debate about qualified players. Jeff Quinneys contention says a lot about the great crop of Nationwide Tour graduates and perhaps more about Tiger Woods dominance.
     
  • And one more thing about the Nationwide Tour as a proving ground. The percentage of former Nationwide Tour players on the PGA TOUR has grown to an all-time high of 65%. And nine Nationwide Tour graduates, including captain Tom Lehman, were members of the 2006 U.S. Ryder Cup team. (Tiger Woods not included.) That says a lot about a developmental league/tour that really works.
     
  • George Lopez is terrific. His attitude is infectious and his recruiting efforts to make the celebrity rotation at the Bob Hope Chyrsler Classic even better will pay off in a big way. Some question why so many celebrity shots are shown during a telecast and truth be told, the tournament organizers want to see as many celebrities as possible until Sunday. Thats how the big names come and play. And the fans who show up to watch are far more interested than you might think in watching guys like Samuel L. Jackson and Taylor Hicks hit a golf ball.
     
  • Watch out for Hale Irwin. 61 years old and a 62 in the first event out. You can bet all the talk about Fred Funk, Nick Price, Mark OMeara, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer and others has fueled the fire in Irwins belly to show these guys that age is no factor. Forty-five Champions Tour wins now. plus 20 PGA TOUR titles. Pretty impressive ' to say the least.
     
  • David Duval is far more ready to contend again than people think. Hes not doing a whole lot of talking about it (unless asked) which is smart. But a sampling of players at the Bob Hope suggests he wont unravel if he gets under the Sunday heat.
     
  • Annika Sorenstam has suddenly become the most intriguing player to watch this year. Rumors of her impending retirement because she wanted to start a family were quickly denied. Shes not claiming burnout. So when she tees it up well see. Twenty wins gets her past Kathy Whitworth on the all-time LPGA list. Thats four a year for five years. If she wants it, shell get it.
     
    Thats it for now.. well see who emerges this weekend at Torrey Pines. Enjoy the coverage and well see you on the Sprint Post Game.
     
    Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann