Originally created 02/19/03

Woods just wants to be like Mark



A fan watching Tiger Woods in his first practice round since surgery was concerned after Woods belted one big drive.

"Which knee did he have the surgery on?" the man said. "I just saw him pick up his right leg like it was hurting."

The surgery was on the left knee.

Besides, whenever Woods snaps up his right leg after a tee shot, it's a good sign.

That has become a signature move for Woods, replacing the fist pump that was so prevalent when he first showed up on the PGA Tour. After a pure drive, Woods twirls the club and quickly picks up his right foot as he bends over to get his tee.

Where did that start? From watching his good friend Mark O'Meara.

"I learned that from M.O.," Woods said. "As much golf as I play with him, I can't stop doing it now."

It beats the alternative - holding out his right arm and yelling, "Fore!"

---

ANNIKA'S ODDS: Phil Mickelson has a chance to back up his talk that Annika Sorenstam will finish 20th at the Colonial.

The Palms sports book in Las Vegas has set odds at 300-to-1 against Sorenstam winning. The odds are 3 1/2 -to-1 that she will make the cut, and 1-to-5 that she will miss the cut.

The over-under for her first round was set at 76 1/2 . Colonial is a par 70 at 7,080 yards.

---

FROM THE GRILLROOM: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem says he's the boss in the kitchen whenever he's home.

"If there's a tournament on TV, I watch in the kitchen and time things for after the golf is over," Finchem said in the March issue of Golf Digest.

Just don't call him "Chef Finchem." The commissioner says a chef is someone who creates, while a cook simply follows a recipe.

"I'm a cook," he said. "I will try stuff. Last year, I tried a banana cream pie from a recipe by Emeril, who has a popular show on the Food Channel. Didn't come out quite right."

His favorite? Seared tuna steak with a burgundy butter sauce, the meal he had the night he was married.

No truth to the rumor that Finchem works in the grill room at the TPC at Sawgrass when he's not negotiating television contracts and locking up corporate sponsorships.

---

RATINGS GAME: With Tiger Woods returning from knee surgery and playing with Phil Mickelson in the final group Sunday at the Buick Invitational, the overnight rating was a 6.7.

A week ago, the final rating for Sunday at Pebble Beach was 3.5.

---

BATTLE AT BRIDGES: The prime-time TV exhibition with Tiger Woods is moving this summer from Bighorn to The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe, a spectacular new course in the foothills north of San Diego.

That will lead to a few changes.

Because The Bridges is an exclusive community, officials don't plan to sell tickets to the public. A smaller gallery won't be such a bad thing. Fans will have to navigate severe changes in elevation along the Robert Trent Jones Jr. course.

What's left to do is figure out who will play.

Local organizers would love to see Phil Mickelson in the mix, especially since he lives at The Bridges, although his comments about Woods' equipment won't help his chances.

One suggestion: Woods and Jack Nicklaus against Ernie Els and Gary Player. Woods and Nicklaus are the defending champions, and it would bring together the top two players in the world. It also would serve as a preview of the Presidents Cup - Nicklaus and Player will be the captains in South Africa.

---

DON'T WAIT ON A BOOK: Brad Faxon is considered one of the best putters on the PGA Tour, having had the top putting average three times in the last seven years.

He was No. 17 a year ago, and he thinks he knows why.

"I was doing all kinds of articles," Faxon said. "People asked me to do books and tapes. I started thinking about what I do, and it screwed me up. So, I'm not going to talk about it anymore. Some pro wrote a book on how to play golf after he won a U.S. Open, and we never heard from him again."

---

ACHES AND PAINS: Someone saw the name one stroke out of the lead midway through the Buick Invitational and figured it was Carl Paulson, who nearly won The Players Championship last year.

Instead, it was Dennis Paulson - no relation - who has virtually disappeared from the PGA Tour while battling one injury after another.

"I don't think I can play through another injury," Dennis Paulson said. "If something else happens this year, I'll probably just pack it in, do some corporate stuff."

He was 27th on the money list in 1999, and beat David Duval in a playoff at the Buick Classic the following year for his only PGA Tour title.

Since then, he has battled everything from tendinitis in his arm to a bone spur in his heel. He injured his back while trying to get through Q-school in December, and he consulted therapists about his shoulder while at Torrey Pines.

Paulson nearly made the most of his sponsor's exemption last week. One off the lead going into the weekend, he closed with rounds of 73-73. That left him two shots out of a top-10 finish, which would have earned him a spot in the field at Riviera.

"My golf swing is coming around," he said. "The whole thing is learning how to score again and being confident on all my shots."

---

DIVOTS: Dawn Coe-Jones, a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour, was selected for the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. ... Carl Pettersson became the 30th player to finish second to Tiger Woods on the PGA Tour. ... Gary Player chose former British Open champion Ian Baker-Finch to be his assistant captain at the Presidents Cup in South Africa. Baker-Finch, a golf analyst for ABC Sports, was the assistant to Peter Thomson in the 1996 matches.

---

STAT OF THE WEEK: Ernie Els is 100 under par in his five tournaments this year.

---

FINAL WORD: "Hey, show me a place where I can get a 775-square-foot apartment with a washer and dryer for $700 a month, and I'll come back." - Arron Oberholser, who left his roots in the San Francisco Bay area to live outside Phoenix.