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GOLF NOTES

Will Woods Change His Evel Knievel Ways?

April 27, 2006|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

Not only did Tiger Woods go bungee jumping in New Zealand and plunge 440 feet, then drive a stock car at high speeds in a celebrity race, that was probably news enough, but there were also some questions raised ... shouldn't he be working on his putting?

Actually, there's plenty of time for that, after his annual charity event, the Tiger Jam, in Las Vegas this weekend. On Woods' tournament radar are the Wachovia, the Byron Nelson and the Memorial.

All three are usually on his schedule and his normal lead-up to the U.S. Open, but as he has said since the Players Championship, his participation in any or all of them is dependent on the health of his father Earl, who is seriously ill with cancer.

Some believe Woods got a free pass for his daredevil activities in New Zealand while Phil Mickelson got roasted for two days of pitching practice with the Toledo Mud Hens in August 2003.

There's a difference, of course. Woods' portfolio of 10 major championship victories means he is cut some slack in the court of public opinion and if Mickelson wanted to work out with a minor league team now, he would receive the same benefit of the doubt because that pitching he did was three major victories ago.

Meanwhile, Woods' being out of the country and not standing by his father's bedside may not seem appropriate to outsiders.

But Woods keeps his private life just that. He is extremely close to his 74-year-old father and they have the right to conduct their relationship in the manner they choose. Those who know both of them may find it reasonable to assume they have worked it out.

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Mickelson announced Wednesday that he and his wife Amy are donating $250,000 to the Katrina relief efforts of David Toms, Hal Sutton and Kelly Gibson. He also said he would donate whatever he wins this week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans to the relief fund.

Mickelson has averaged about $347,000 in nine tournaments this year.

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The quote of the week is from Stuart Appleby, whose six-shot victory in the Shell Houston Open was one more than the combined margin of his seven previous PGA Tour victories (two were in playoffs): "Winning by a bunch is a lot more enjoyable."

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The strange stat of the week is from Tom Kite, who is 0 for 108 in PGA Tour and Champions Tour events in his home state of Texas. Kite will try to end that streak at this week's FedEx Kinko's Classic at Austin.

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Aussie Rules: Let's see if we've got this straight. Geoff Ogilvy of Australia wins the match-play event at La Costa and he's the new Greg Norman. Rodney Pampling of Australia wins at Bay Hill and he's Norman, followed by Aaron Baddeley of Australia, who wins at Hilton Head to be launched as the new Norman.

So Appleby wins at Houston, his second victory this year, and he becomes the new Norman instead.

Not really. They have the same homeland, but only Norman is Norman and he won 20 times, so there's no new anybody and no comparison yet, just as Luke Donald of England needs to win nine times on the PGA Tour (and make six of them majors while he's at it) to be compared to Nick Faldo.

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No one was more stunned than Annika Sorenstam when she pumped her tee shot out of bounds on the 71st hole in the LPGA event over the weekend and wound up losing to Sun Ah Yim, who had trailed Sorenstam, 67-0, in victories.

Well, maybe Yim.

"I can't believe it," she said.

Neither could Sorenstam. She had won 46 of 67 times and 11 straight when holding the final-round lead. Her closing 75 was five shots worse than her scoring average this year.

"I feel obviously very, very disappointed," she said.

"Sometimes it doesn't go your way. I've got to forget about this as soon as I can."

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Paul Goydos of Long Beach, a 14-year veteran who is playing the PGA Tour this year on a major medical extension because of sinus surgery and hip problems, made $116,600 at Houston and that allows him to play out the medical category the rest of the season.

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Appleby is the 14th player in 16 stroke-play events this year to hold or share the 54-hole lead and go on to win.

The only exceptions were Sergio Garcia and Pampling at the Buick Invitational, where Woods won, and Duffy Waldorf at Tucson, where J.B. Holmes won.

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Child's play: Dakoda Dowd, 13, is playing the Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open this week on a sponsor's exemption from the LPGA Tour. The sponsor took note of Dowd after news reports that Dowd's mother, Kelly Joe, is once again battling cancer after two years of remission.

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Former USGA president Fred Ridley, 53, will replace Will Nicholson as chairman of the Masters competition committee and rules committee. Nicholson, 77, is giving up his positions to serve Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson on the club's special assignments committee. He joined the rules committee in 1974.

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