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Woods finds a way to occupy his free time

October 08, 2008|Bill Dwyre

Tiger Woods had a circular stick in his hand in Southern California again Tuesday and waggled it confidently as he stood over a golf course.

It is not what you think. Tiger is not back, not quite yet.

The knee injury that will be forever etched in our memory as the focal point of his courageous and dramatic playoff victory on that Monday in June at Torrey Pines is still healing. He said his timetable for returning to the PGA Tour is still uncertain. He had surgery shortly after the U.S. Open.

"I can walk, the knee is good, we are right on schedule," he said. "There is no pain, and the work is on strength and mobility."

Well, no pain until the daily rehabilitation begins.

"Oh, man."

He rolled his eyes as he spoke.

"There is lots of work, hours a day. Man."

But it is the very nature of Eldrick Woods to be a tiger about staying busy, even while doctors are keeping him off the golf course. That's why he was here Tuesday. This was Tiger Woods, designer, rather than Tiger Woods, best golfer in the universe.

In a fancy room at a swank hotel -- the room filled with investment, developer and public relations types all dressed elegantly and a scattering of the opposite (also known as the media) -- Woods announced details about his part-time job.

He has designed a golf course on a spectacular piece of land along the Pacific Ocean, just south of Ensenada and about 70 miles south of San Diego. It is called Punta Brava (Wild Point), and is a $100-million project financed by entrepreneur and former NFL and NBA owner Red McCombs.

McCombs, in attendance, said, "When this was brought to me, I wasn't especially turned on. Then, they told me there was a good chance that Tiger would be involved. I said, forget it. It's over. I'm in."

Woods took a display pointer, stood next to an artist's rendering of a proposed Punta Brava, to be completed in about three years, and described something that sounded like it could eventually become the Pebble Beach of Mexico. Pebble Beach of California, of course, is public. Punta Brava will not be.

Woods talked about the elevation on the seven-mile peninsula that dropped from a 1,200-foot mountain to 300-foot ledges for villas and homes that overlook a golf course near sea level. That course, Woods said, will have an ocean view from every tee, fairway and green.

"Now, if you go and hit it in the bushes or the junk," he said, "maybe not."

He said that 12 of the tees or greens are right on the water, that tee shots on eight of the holes will necessitate hitting over water, and No. 18, a Pebble-Beach-like par five dog-legging left with the ocean on the left, may not be as difficult as it looks.

"Some of you will reach it in two," he said, looking away from the media people.

After they had run a video, showing Tiger standing on top of the 1,200-foot mountain and looking out to the ocean, and had finished the description, it was hard not to dash to the sign-up line for a villa. One unconfirmed rumor had several AIG executives, now with more time on their hands than Tiger, set to buy.

Designer Woods said he has purposely gone slowly in this aspect of his career.

"I told myself I would play on every continent before I started designing," he said. "I guess I have missed the Antarctica Four Ball, but otherwise, I've done it.

"I felt I owed that to myself and to the people who will play the courses to have as much experience as I can. I've talked to all the people who have done this. I've learned a lot, thought a lot about it, used the experiences I've had as a player.

"That's why Jack is so successful [at course design]. He was a cerebral player."

Player Woods said the doctors won't let him start swinging the club until January.

"I can't rotate the knee until then," he said, adding that his ideal would be to play one or two events before the Masters in mid-April.

"You just can't tell, once you start back, about things like swelling and soreness," he said. "That can set you back."

Once he gets back, there is little question that we will see more of the same fire and grit he used to fight his way down those Torrey Pines fairways that June Monday afternoon.

"I was supposed to go to Mexico on a site visit for this that day," he said, "But I was busy."

Indeed. Rocco Mediate and millions more remember.

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Bill Dwyre can be reached at bill.dwyre@latimes.com. For previous columns, go to latimes.com/dwyre.

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