Originally created 11/27/02

Tiger knows where Hootie stands



Tiger Woods kept saying he was sure Augusta National would have a female member by the next Masters, although he had not spoken to chairman Hootie Johnson.

Now he has.

Woods said Johnson called him shortly after the chairman said in a series of interviews there was no chance a woman would join Augusta National by April.

"He told me what was going to come out, what he had said, and that was it," Woods said. "He also talked about some of the changes to the fifth hole."

Woods said he was not surprised by Johnson's resolve.

"It was just like Hootie," he said. "All the things I've known about the guy, that's just the way his personality is."

Woods said Johnson's decision means the controversy over Augusta National's all-male membership will only escalate.

"More people are going to be more inquisitive come the Florida swing and on," he said. "There's going to be a lot of players asked about it."

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MASTERS CRITERIA: The Masters has restored some drama to the first three months of the PGA Tour.

Augusta National expanded its qualification criteria for the Masters on Tuesday by taking more players from next year's PGA Tour money list and giving them more time to earn a trip down Magnolia Lane.

The top 10 players on the 2003 money list through The Players Championship will be eligible for the Masters. Previously, the Masters took only the top three players on the money list that was published four weeks before the tournament, usually after Doral.

The same goes for the world ranking.

Instead of taking the top 50 from the ranking published four weeks before the Masters, the cutoff will be one week (Players Championship).

"I think the quality of our field will be enhanced by these changes," chairman Hootie Johnson said. "In both instances, players can qualify within one week of the tournament. This will ensure that the best players at that time are in the Masters."

The Masters was criticized in 1999 when it decided to do away with the PGA Tour winners category, instead relying more heavily on the world ranking and the money list.

The change eliminated the suspense from the first three months on tour, when the most meaningful aspect of winning for some players was getting into the Masters.

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OLYMPIC UPDATE: Any chance for golf to become an Olympic sport at the 2008 Games in Beijing could come Friday in Mexico City.

Among items on the agenda at the IOC meeting is a vote to eliminate baseball, softball or the modern penthalon from the Olympic program. Golf and rugby are candidates to be new sports, but neither can be added if no other sports are dropped.

"If a sport were to go off, there's a good chance golf would go on," David Fay, executive director of the U.S. Golf Association, said Tuesday.

Fay and Royal & Ancient secretary Peter Dawson are joint leaders of the World Amateur Golf Council, which the IOC recognizes as the official golf federation.

A simple majority is needed to eliminate a sport, and Fay was relieved to learn Tuesday that a vote was still on the table.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said he has a legal opinion to proceed with the vote after concerns were raised about whether the Olympic Charter prohibits any changes to the program less than seven years to Olympics.

"A couple of days ago, I would have said it looked bleak because it sounded like they were trying to stop any discussion," Fay said. "Whether a sport is dropped or not, I don't know. But for golf's sake, that was an encouraging sign."

Now, all he can do is wait.

"I don't want to root against any sport," Fay said. "I'm rooting for modern penthalon and softball to stay on. Olympic baseball does nothing for me. It's Tommy Lasorda and a bunch of fill-in-the-blanks."

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HEAD-TURNER: An oddity about Annika Sorenstam's textbook swing is that she moves her head forward as she makes contact, a drill she began about 14 years ago.

"I had a tendency to stay back on my right foot," she said. "Henri (Reis), my coach, told me to move my head with my follow-through. Therefore, I cleared it and finished better on my left side."

Her swing wasn't an instant hit when she left Sweden for the University of Arizona.

"My coach at the time said she hated my swing," Sorenstam said. "I was a freshman, my first day of qualifying, just before I went out to the tee. I'll never forget."

Nor will she forget the results.

"I was 4 under on the front nine," she said.

Forty-two LPGA Tour victories later, Sorenstam hasn't changed.

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NO TO NELSON? The European PGA Tour schedule was released Tuesday, and the most notable date was the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Germany, where Tiger Woods has played every year since 1999.

It will be the same week as the Byron Nelson Classic, which Woods has played every year since 1997.

While Woods has not discussed his '03 schedule, it appears certain that he will skip the Nelson for the first time because he is defending champion at Deutsche Bank.

And while Woods receives more than $2 million in appearance money in Europe, he has a vested interested in Deutsche Bank: It recently signed on a title sponsor on the PGA Tour for an event that has named the Tiger Woods Foundation as its charity.

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DIVOTS: Steve Allan won the Australian Open, which qualifies him for the Memorial Open. His next stop, however, is PGA Tour qualifying school. ... Adams Golf is the latest company to skip the PGA Merchandise Show next year. "The show has largely become a PR event, and from a cost benefit perspective, it no longer works," CEO Chip Brewer said. Other companies who won't be in Orlando, Fla., are Ping and Titleist.

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STAT OF THE WEEK: Annika Sorenstam would have finished eighth on the PGA Tour money list with $2,863,904 - even though the total purse on the LPGA Tour was $43.5 million, compared with just under $200 million on the PGA Tour.

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FINAL WORD: "I'm materialistic. I don't know if that's American." - Annika Sorenstam of Sweden, on whether she has become Americanized from living in the United States for so long.