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Hooks and Cuts: Sawgrass Storylines

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The Players ChampionshipPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – When Tiger Woods triple-bogeyed the fourth, our jaded crew went on the over/under watch for number of holes before the WD. Where he once inspired such confidence, now there’s just so much conjecture.

– David Duval used to believe you needed to be No. 1 in the world and be skinny to be happy. He was both of those things 12 years ago, but wasn’t happy. He is now, thanks to marriage and family. Duval’s on the slow road back, but at least he’s not empty. Now he’s whole. And he’d laugh if you made a crack about that.

– Johnny Miller on 'Golf Talk Live' Wednesday said Tiger’s an old 35. Even before the limp, he’d been walking like Jim Brown after a 40-carry game.

– Lucas Glover with the full-facial fuzz, looks like he could suit up for the Boston Bruins and play some old-time hockey.

– Paul Goydos rinsed his tee ball at 17 in ’08 before losing to Sergio, but still believes it’s an equitable playoff hole. “It is sudden death,” he told me Tuesday, and it was that for him. “What I like is that it doesn’t give an advantage in a playoff situation to a longer hitter or to a particular ball shape the way 18 might.” I, personally, would like to see a three-hole overtime starting on No.16.

– One golf industry heavyweight tossed out a major idea that piqued my interest: The PGA of America someday moving its PGA Championship outside the United States on occasion, to the Far East, South Africa or South America. It was just a thought, nothing more, but interesting nonetheless.

– Mark O’Meara’s happily remarried after a difficult divorce, working hard at 54 years old with a daughter in law school, a son in college and a surprisingly low number on Day 1.

– I don’t understand Bubba Watson, with a first-round 76, not playing a practice round this week. I get that the course may not fit the eye, but go figure it out. Glover did. He’d missed the cut in his first four appearances before finishing third last year and posting 65 today. What did he finally learn about TPC Sawgrass? “Hit fairways,” he said.

– With nagging injuries and lagging confidence, Henrik Stenson is a shell of the player who won here two years ago. He shot 79 to open.

– O’Meara played two practice rounds with Tiger this week and saw no sign of knee trouble. “I was shocked,” O’Meara said of Tiger’s early exit. He had dinner with Tiger Wednesday, saying Tiger was in “great spirits.”

– Preparing a story for the U.S. Open at Congressional on the view of golf on Capitol Hill. Did you know that in the Katrina Disaster Relief Bill the golf industry was excluded from getting aid? That golf was lumped in with the following categories: casinos, liquor stores and massage parlors? Seriously. That’s why We Are Golf was formed – to lobby and educate our leaders that golf is not a game for only the elite. Progress is being made and there’s now a 100-member bipartisan golf caucus that will be out at Congressional on Tuesday of the U.S. Open.

– Because a man can’t live on golf alone, I tried to expand my horizons by piping in the Pay-Per-View Pacquiao/Mosely bout. What a monumental waste of $65. Not only was the fight a farce, but it didn’t start until almost midnight. Inexcusable. Me against sleep was the better fight. Elsewhere, the Lakers' exit was as shameful and embarrassing as any I’ve ever seen from a champion. Andrew Bynum should’ve been suspended for 20 games, not five, for the cheap shot on Dallas’ J.J. Barea. I feel better now that I got that off my chest.

– Watney makes nine birdies and an eagle in Round 1. I know it was easier in the morning with softer greens and little wind, but nine birdies and an eagle is just not that easy on this golf course, under any conditions. But that’s what players – real players – are capable of doing. And Watney’s a real player.