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GOLF

Tiger Woods has a host of tasks

Golfer is in high demand at course where his own tournament, the AT&T National, will be played.

July 01, 2009|Kevin Van Valkenburg

POTOMAC, MD. — He walked into the room 16 minutes behind schedule, wearing a tailored pink shirt, a fitted black hat and a big smile for the cameras. But on his feet, Tiger Woods wore silver Nike running shoes instead of golf spikes, and at first glance, it was a bit disarming. Almost like seeing Frank Sinatra in flip-flops.

But the shoes were symbolic of what it means to be Woods during the week of the AT&T National, the annual PGA Tour tournament he hosts.

On Tuesday, the best golfer in the world was constantly on the move at Congressional Country Club, practically running from one appointment to the next, forever called upon to shake more hands, grant more interview time or chat with everyone from sponsors to senators, fans and competitors.

"We have a few more meetings and a few more appearances here that you don't normally do," Woods said when asked what his preparation will be like this week. "You learn how to balance your time and try to be as ready as you possibly can. Your workout schedule is kind of thrown off a little bit. But then again, I'll be ready."

Woods didn't play in his own tournament last year, forced to sit out while he recovered from knee surgery.

Anthony Kim took advantage of Woods' absence and won the event.

Woods, though, will be a good bet to have his name engraved on the trophy this year, especially after a 10th-place finish in the U.S. Open at Bethpage.

"I always put in as much as I possibly can to win an event," Woods said.

"Certainly, I love being the greedy host. It's fun winning your own event. There's no doubt. Hopefully, I can do that again this week," he added.

A victory by Woods would probably be embraced by tournament patrons, particularly because it will be the last chance for a while for locals to see Woods up close.

The tournament will leave the area for two years while Congressional overhauls its greens in preparation for the 2011 U.S. Open.

Aronimink Golf Club outside Philadelphia will be the site in 2010 and 2011, with the tournament scheduled to return to Congressional in 2012.

Woods played a practice round Tuesday to get a feel for the course, which has been conditioned to the style of golf he prefers: long rough and firm greens.

However you feel about a PGA Tour player getting to dictate a course set-up that favors his game, Woods' round as a part of a pro-am will be a bit more controversial.

That's because one of his playing partners will be Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, hardly a favorite of Washington Redskins fans. Romo's girlfriend, Jessica Simpson, will sing the national anthem before the start of the event.

"Certainly, I didn't realize it was going to be this big of a deal," Woods said, responding to a reporter who asked how he felt about his pro-am group potentially getting booed.

"He's a big golf nut and loves to play and understands how to play. I've always wanted to play with him and he accepted our invitation, which is awfully nice of him. He's used to getting booed. It comes with, in a team sport, being away from home."

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kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com

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