Originally created 05/23/01

Golf notebook



All Tiger Woods needs is one more tournament, his signature on a membership application and a $300 entry fee to join the European tour and have a good chance to become the first player to win the money title on both sides of the Atlantic.

Will he do it? Doubtful. Presented that scenario after winning in Germany, Woods offered only a lukewarm, "You never know."

Woods is exempt on the European tour for 10 years because of his Open championship at St. Andrews.

If he were a member, Woods already would be about $1 million ahead of Michael Campbell on the Order of Merit, having played just four tournaments - the Johnnie Walker Classic, Dubai, the Masters and the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open.

Eleven tournaments are required of European tour members. Still on the schedule for Woods are the other three majors, two World Golf Championships and the Lancome Trophy in France the week before the Ryder Cup.

That makes 10 tournaments, leaving him one short. One possibility is the Dutch Open, which would love to have Woods and is played the week after the British Open.

Still, Woods seems cool to the idea, particularly because of the mandatory 11 tournaments. He added Dubai this year, and the Lancome Trophy made sense only because it fell a week before the Ryder Cup.

"Let's say one year I don't want to play as many tournaments," he said.

According to European tour regulations, a member who doesn't play at least 11 tournaments is not eligible for reinstatement without written permission for two years.

Would he consider joining the tour if there was no risk of suspension?

"I don't know," he said. "It's a lot to ask to try and play."

A year ago, Lee Westwood ended Colin Montgomerie's record seven-year reign atop the Order of Merit by winning nearly $3 million in 23 tournaments, a European tour record. Woods is listed on the supplemental list since he only played nine tournaments.

His earnings were more than $4.5 million.

OPEN SEASON: The Kemper Open is the last chance to avoid qualifying for the U.S. Open, and no one is on the bubble quite like Steve Stricker.

The U.S. Golf Association gives exemptions to the top 50 in the world ranking and the top 10 on the PGA Tour money list after this week. Stricker, who won the Match Play Championship in Australia to start the year, is 49th in the world ranking and No. 10 (by $2,750) on the money list.

"It's definitely on my mind," Stricker said. "I have prepared myself in case I have to go to sectional qualifying. It's tough to get in. I've played well at times, but not well enough."

This would be a good week for him to play well enough. According to the IMG office in London, which administers the world ranking, Stricker likely will stay in the top 50 provided he makes the cut at the Kemper Open.

If he misses the cut, he will fall to at least No. 51. History is on Stricker's side, since he won the Kemper in 1996 and has two other top-10 finishes there.

Steve Lowery is No. 52 and would need at least a top 10 to avoid qualifying.

Meanwhile, Greg Norman (No. 55) and Fred Couples (No. 56) will have to go through qualifying to get a tee time at Southern Hills. Both missed the cut at Colonial last week, and neither is playing the Kemper.

Those who are almost certain to stay in the top 50 include Scott Hoch (41), Dennis Paulson (42), Bernhard Langer (45) and Eduardo Romero (48).

CANADIAN TRAINING: One year after tobacco legislation put an end to du Maurier's sponsorship of women's golf in Canada, things are looking up north of the border.

The Bank of Montreal took over as title sponsor to keep an LPGA Tour event in Canada (although it is no longer a major). And on Monday, the company agreed to become title sponsor of a Canadian women's tour and a national junior golf development program called "Future Links."

"Our expanded participation in golf will play a vital role in developing the sport for women and juniors across Canada," said Maurice Hudon, a Bank of Montreal president.

The women's tour, where Lorie Kane got her start, will include three tournaments and a chance to qualify for the Canadian Women's Open.

YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS: It wasn't a U.S. Women's Open qualifier, but the Jennie K. Wilson Invitational was yet another sign that the face of golf is getting younger.

Michelle Wie, an 11-year-old in the sixth grade at Punahou School, won the tournament for Hawaii's top amateur golfers, closing with a 4-over 76 to finish at 220, nine strokes in front of runner-up and defending champion Bobbi Kokx.

The final round came six days after 12-year-old Morgan Pressel qualified for the U.S. Women's Open.

Wie was allowed to compete only after tournament officials lifted the age restriction of 16 and over. She qualified because she carries a 2 handicap.

DIVOTS: Betsy King took off last week to give the commencement address at Albright College in Pennsylvania, where she was given an honorary doctorate. ... Tiger Woods did not get out of Germany without facing one bizarre question. A reporter wanted to know why his trousers were so ugly. "Our styles must just be different," Woods replied. ... Ticket requests for the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage State Park in New York will be accepted from June 18 to July 31, with a random drawing taking place in August. The last 15 championships have been sold out. ... Annika Sorenstam became the fastest woman to surpass $1 million in a season when she tied for seventh last week and earned $19,876 in her 10th tournament. She broke the record set last year by Karrie Webb (13 events).

STAT OF THE WEEK: In the 14 non-PGA Tour events that Tiger Woods has played around the world, he has won six and finished lower than eighth just once.

FINAL WORD: "I will still go my own pace, and that's usually very unhurried." - Bruce Lietzke, on his plans for the Senior Tour.