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From Dubai to Doral

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LONGSHOT JOE
 
Which is more of a longshot, the Bengals winning the Super Bowl or Joe Durant winning two tournaments in 2001 before Tiger Woods has won even one? Go figure.
 
BEWARE THE BALL
 
The new Titleist golf ball, the Pro-V1, is THE buzz on tour. Gentleman Joe's added 15 yards and suddenly become a Ryder Cup contender. Slight of build Jeff Sluman's poppin' it big distances, too. The Pro-V1 has grabbed eight of ten victories this year, putting Titleist back on top in its blood battle with Nike.
 
HE DID WHAT?
 
Tiger makes double on the 72nd hole in Dubai. Somewhere in his career Jordan must have missed a couple of late free throws, don't you think?
 
GETTING HIS SHOTS IN
 
Tiger jabbed the American golf scene with several comments, including, '...it's nice to putt on true greens', '...the crowds are respectful here...nobody's yellin' 'you da'man'', and finally on the subject of his winless streak - stressing that he'd won several international events during that span - he chided the American press and public for not having a 'better understanding' of world golf.
 
You know, there's plenty of oil money in Dubai. Maybe Tiger would like to play THERE every week for two million a throw?
 
HOLD THAT TALK
 
All talk of the gap being closed on Tiger should be reigned in until we see what happens at The Masters. If Tiger wins there, that would be four biggies in a row. And that would be a kind of dominance we've not seen since...since, let's see...since last year when he won three in a row.
 
By the way, Woods isn't that far from a return to glory. But his 'struggles' this year underscore just how special 2000 was. We may never, ever see that kind of one season run again.
 
And again, I still think Titleist has as much to do with the rebound of other players as the players themselves. 15 yards is A LOT!
 
AND BEWARE BJORN
 
Thomas Bjorn gets it. To slay the giant, you have to hit back, and hit hard.
 
WHERE'S THE LOVE?
 
Apparently, people still aren't convinced that Davis Love III can get it done when the heat's on. Granted, he's not Tiger. But who is? And I still think when all is said and done Davis will end up with 20 wins including three majors. Is that so bad?
 
GETTING OLD
 
Last week 17-year-old James Vargas shot 75-77 at Doral on a sponsor's exemption. In a matter of days Vargas is an old man AND old news. 16-year-old Ty Tryon, who plays on the same Orlando area high school team as the sons of John Cook and David Leadbetter, has Monday qualified for The Honda Classic.
 
My son Jack just turned three and hasn't broken 80 yet. What a disappointment.
 
PLAY IT AGAIN, JOE
 
Speaking of The Honda, no reason why Gentleman Joe Durant can't make it three in a row. The wind usually blows at tree-less Heron Bay, and Durant plays the wind like Wynton Marsallis plays jazz. His 65 Sunday at Doral was nothing short of brilliant. Durant hits it low. Durant hits it straight. And now Durant makes some putts. That usually works.
 
ETHELVILLE
 
Finally, I visited my grandmother while covering Doral. She lives in Ethelville. Everyone in her community is named Ethel. Ethel Siegel, Ethel Flank, Ethel Yarofsky, Ethel Ginsburg.