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National Defense

The last time we saw Tiger Woods in a play-for-pay event was six weeks ago. He stuck a 6-iron from 218 yards out of a fairway bunker over water to win the Bell Canadian Open.
Well, Tiger's back again this week at the National Car Rental Golf Classic at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
His game is on form. He's motivated. He's playing at home. He's the defending champion. And, he loves the two courses - Magnolia and Palm - the tournament is contested on.
'I'm really looking forward to being able to stretch it out and use my length to my advantage,' said Tiger, who admitted he is still testing drivers after accidentally breaking his last week. 'So many courses we play throughout the year, I can't do that. I have to hit a lot of deuces (2-irons) off the tee, kind of lay up and play from there.'
Last year, Tiger bettered Ernie Els by one stroke to claim his second title in as many starts. Asked afterwards if he had any goals remaining for the 1999 season, Tiger quipped: 'A hat trick, I'd like to win the last three.'
And so he did.
Woods won the Tour Championship, and then ended the season by capturing the WGC - American Express Championship in Valderrama, Spain.
'I thought it could be done,' Woods said. 'Simple as that.'
That made it four wins in four starts for Woods. He went on to win his first two starts in 2000 to up that streak to six-in-a-row, before Phil Mickelson topped him at this year's Buick Invitational.
Tiger has won nine times on the PGA Tour in 2000. Last week, he helped his American teammates win back the Presidents Cup in overwhelming fashion at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Prince William County, Va.
Woods is one of only seven Presidents Cup participants to make the trip to central Florida. One of those is Vijay Singh. Tiger competed against Vijay in four of his five Cup matches, including Sunday's singles match.
For those who missed Sunday's festivities, Singh's caddie, Paul Tesori, sported a baseball cap with 'Tiger Who?' stitched on the back. Neither man conceded many putts on that tension-filled day. Woods went on to defeat Singh 2-and-1.
Tiger and Vijay are the only two players inside the top 10 on the money list in attendance this week. Those absentees can afford to take the week off. They've secured not only their 2001 playing privileges, but also a spot in next week's Tour Championship.
Meanwhile, others aren't feeling quite as cozy. This is the final event before the $5-million Tour Championship, which is held at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga. It's also the penultimate full-field event on the 2000 schedule. The Southern Farm Bureau Classic will be contested in Madison, Miss., opposite the Tour Championship, giving players one last chance to keep or earn their 2001 PGA Tour cards.
Of the players currently ranked 24th to 40th in earnings, only four are not in the Disney field - Nick Price (No. 27), Chris Perry (32), Shigeki Maruyama (35) and Greg Chalmers (38).
At the other end of the spectrum, all but one of the players 111th to 139th on the money list are competing this week. The lone exception is Joe Ozaki, who resides in 127th position.
This week's event offers a $3-million purse, with $540,000 going to the winner.