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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

To Even the Field, Woods Needs His Own Rules

August 29, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

PALM DESERT — Michael Jordan tried to even things out, taking time from basketball to fail in baseball, shooting free throws with his eyes closed and playing with Luc Longley as his center.

So far, Tiger Woods has shown no mercy, and having won his latest tournament in the dark, blindfolding him isn't going to make a difference.

No one is suggesting that he take a golf sabbatical and give the Arena League a try, but we are reaching the point where ABC-TV officials might become even more desperate, and pair Dennis Miller with Woods.

That would be all right, but then ABC probably would insist on putting a live microphone on Miller, and there goes the show.

Now R.D. Hubbard, the general managing partner here at the Bighorn Golf Club, said he has a three-year contract with Woods to play in this desert event.

"I'd make it 10-to-20 years right now if I could," Hubbard added.

But Hubbard has a problem, since none of the PGA Tour pros have the game to hang with Woods. It might be more exciting anyway if Woods played himself, a Titleist versus a Nike--the best ball winning.

Sergio Garcia, who has never won a tournament in this country, qualified to play in "The Battle at Bighorn" because he hit a ball from behind a tree in last year's PGA Championship and then ran up the fairway to see where it went. That's good TV, making Garcia the only golfer--besides Woods--to display a personality in the last 12 months.

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IN BASKETBALL, the opposition took it upon itself to implement the Jordan rules in a desperate effort to level the playing field.

Golf needs to install the Tiger rules for this event:

* Winning horses are required to carry more weight in racing. With that in mind, Tiger should remove one club from his bag for every tournament victory before this event each year. This year, he has won eight tournaments, so he would have been allowed to compete with only six clubs.

* We know now that Mark McGwire got his power from using andro, and Woods gets his from using juiced up golf balls, but for this event Woods should be required to go to the pro shop and buy the same Nike balls everyone else hits, at the same jacked-up prices.

* Tiger should not be allowed to use a tee. He must bounce the ball off his driver, as he does in the commercials, and then hit away.

* If Tiger gets rolling, officials should be allowed to put a foursome of women golfers on the hole ahead. Make him wait like the rest of us.

* Tiger's foe may play from the red tees.

* Tiger's opponent may not be chastised for asking for strokes at any time.

* Tiger's opponent may ask him to play with one hand tied behind his back, but may do so on only one hole--each nine.

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GERMS, GARCIA WIN. You know the PGA Tour pros were paying attention, the heck with the Tiger rules, from now on they will be introducing all their sick friends to Woods.

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WITH ALL THE fanfare surrounding Woods' arrival here, and knowing he will be back the next two years, Hubbard already is the biggest winner. He has sold eight homes on Bighorn--each with a membership fee of $195,000--and six lots--ranging from $800,000 to $3 million--in the last five days.

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THE BIGGEST LOSER was the paying customer, who put out $75 for a ticket--adult or child--and then got the evil stare from Woods--the kind that suggests a prison term of one-to-two years would be appropriate--for clicking a camera at the wrong time.

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SO USC GOES 13-0 and wins the Rose Bowl.

"I think you mean the Orange Bowl," said Coach Paul Hackett with a satisfying laugh.

How good it must have felt to walk across the field and shake hands with Joe Paterno, who had beaten Hackett's teams three times while Hackett was at Pitt.

"You know what Joe said to me when we came together?" Hackett asked. "He said, 'Thanks for not running up the score.' That's huge."

Hackett's Trojans were huge, answering his challenge to play an extra game against a Paterno-coached team. And they won it up front on both sides of the ball, which already makes them a 14-point favorite over UCLA.

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THE IOC WILL now test for the drug EPO, which allows athletes to train longer and work harder. Your first impression, of course, is this will leave no one to compete in the Olympics.

Here's the catch: Both an athlete's blood and urine will have to test positive for someone to be banned. A blood test will reveal drug use any time in the past few weeks; a urine test will show use in a three-day span of time.

This makes it more a test of stupidity than drug usage, identifying those dumb enough to use EPO even though they know they will be tested.

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FOLKS ARE BEING entirely too hard on the newest Laker, Isaiah Rider. When he sets his mind to doing something, he can do it. When he had to remain eligible to play at Nevada Las Vegas, he received a passing grade in "Prevention & Management of Premenstrual Syndrome."

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IF JAY FIEDLER is going to be the replacement for Dan Marino in Miami, just what's left for the XFL when it's time for the new league to start signing up quarterbacks?

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IF I HAVE said it once, I've thought it a hundred times: Bench Gary Sheffield, bring up Bruce Aven and the Dodgers will just take off.

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A GOLF POSTSCRIPT: Even though Garcia was here more for his charisma than his swing, this was a 20-year-old playing golf, "working" for three hours to earn either $1.1 million or $400,000.

Now I know why my daughter won't cut the grass for 10 bucks.

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TODAY'S LAST WORD comes in an e-mail from BACS:

"In the current issue of Sports Illustrated there is a brief paragraph saying that two harness racing horses in New York tested positive for Viagra. What implications do you see in this?"

Sorry, my expertise is limited to lesbians.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail address: t.j.simers@latimes.com.

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