Question: Will Tiger Woods be the favorite when the U.S. Open begins in three weeks?
Answer: Yes. Tiger Woods will be the favorite in the U.S. Open for the next 20 years.
All right, so Woods didn't win last week in Germany even though he held the third- round lead, but it does not matter.
No, what matters is how Woods prepares himself for the Open at Pebble Beach--a place where he won three months ago when he came from seven shots down with six holes to go at the AT&T National Pro-Am.
Woods and long hitters may wind up with an advantage at Pebble Beach because the rough isn't going to be as high as it usually is in the U.S. Open. The trade-off is that the greens will be extremely hard and fast.
So the good putters are going to be in the front row too. And the top three on the PGA Tour are Jesper Parnevik, Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III.
That's not a bad group, especially because Mickelson, who has won three tournaments this year, seems intent on trying to win his first major title. However, as is usually the case, Woods is in a class by himself. He always seems to be making news, which is what he did last week at the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open when he "tested" a Nike golf ball for the first time, even though he has an endorsement deal with Titleist.
This brings up a couple more Tiger questions.
If Woods had won, would he have switched to the Nike ball as soon as he left the green?
Because he didn't, should he have blamed the Nike ball?
In the meantime, there are reports that Woods' ongoing endorsement extension deal with Nike includes a percentage of income from the sale of Nike Golf merchandise. Stay tuned.
This week, Woods is playing under the steady eye of Jack Nicklaus at Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, where you can be sure that the four-time U.S. Open champion is standing by to offer a few meaningful tips.
Woods' endorsement deal with Buick is reported to be five years and $25 million. Also, Woods was paid an appearance fee of
$1 million to play last week in Germany.
TIGER UPDATE II
A round of golf with Woods went for $650,000 at a charity auction last week in Atherton, Calif.
The winning bid was submitted by Tom Mendoza, vice president of worldwide sales at computer storage company Network Appliance Inc.
Now while that may sound like a lot of money, Mendoza recently donated $35 million to his alma mater, Notre Dame, which is going to rename its business school for Mendoza.
As for his round with Woods, Warren Buffet will fly Mendoza there in his private plane, caddie for him and even offer a stock tip at the 18th hole.
You would pay $650,000 for that, wouldn't you?
It had to happen: Seven months after his death, the first two Payne Stewart books have hit the shelves--"The Payne Stewart Story" ($24.95) and "I Remember Payne Stewart" ($18.95).
THE KATHY TOUR
The celebrity golf tournament bandwagon known as the LPGA Tour rolls on in two weeks, when Kathy Ireland's tournament is played at Myrtle Beach, S.C., only three weeks after the Vince Gill/Amy Grant tournament in Memphis, Tenn.
Ireland has lent her name and her support to the Kathy Ireland Greens.com LPGA Classic that benefits the City of Hope Cancer Center.
Ireland, a supermodel/actress and lifestyle product designer, lives in Santa Barbara and likes to play local nine-hole courses so she doesn't take too much time away from her two young children.
"Golf is something new to me, but I know it's one of those sports that can be so frustrating," she said. "It's very humbling."
DO IT QUIGLEY
Tom Watson is a local guy and Jim Colbert went to Kansas State, so Dana Quigley was nearly forgotten by the fans in Sunday's final round of the Senior PGA Tour event in Kansas City, Mo.
There was one guy who cheered for Quigley, so Colbert pointed him out. Quigley recognized the fan right away.
"Oh, yeah," he said. "That's the guy I played with in the pro-am."
Cheering section or not, it didn't seem to matter to Quigley, who went on to post a one-shot victory over Watson.
Said Quigley: "It was a miracle."
Maybe, but at least Quigley has worked hard to make it happen. It was his 105th consecutive Senior PGA Tour event.
NOTHING MOCK ABOUT IT
Like those mock turtleneck shirts that David Duval wears? Chances are, you need to look now to see them with the news that apparel designer Mossimo is having financial problems after three of its creditors filed a petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Duval has a four-year, $4.95-million endorsement deal with Mossimo.
Karrie Webb tied for second at last week's Firstar LPGA Classic in Beavercreek, Ohio, her 11th consecutive top-10 finish. She needs five more to tie her record of 16, set in 1999.
Webb, who lost to Annika Sorenstam by one shot, took a two-shot penalty at the par-five No. 8 when she hit the sand with a practice swing in the bunker.
"It was just one of those things," Webb said.