Originally created 01/12/04

Another cup on the horizon, but not Tiger



KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Some of the world's best players belong to two golf clubs in Orlando, Fla. - Isleworth and Lake Nona - which would make for an intriguing intraclub match worthy of television.

It looks like it's finally about to happen.

Ernie Els said the Tavistock Cup - named after the company that owns both clubs - is planned for March 29-30 at Lake Nona, where Els, Retief Goosen and Annika Sorenstam all have homes.

"They're going to make me captain for some reason," Els said. "It's not going to be like the Presidents Cup or the Ryder Cup. This is for bragging rights in Orlando."

The Golf Channel and Sky TV in Europe would televise the matches, although a PGA Tour official said they have not yet secured the necessary release from the tour.

And the Tavistock Cup is missing one other component - the best player in the world.

When Tiger Woods was asked what the chances were of him playing, he slowly joined his index finger with his thumb on both hands to form a circle.

"Zero chance," Woods said.

The Tavistock Cup would be the Monday and Tuesday after The Players Championship, when top players are in Florida getting ready for the Masters, the international media presence is strong.

Woods, however, usually spends that week getting his game fine-tuned for Augusta National, and he did not seem interested in spending two days playing rounds that would take four hours to play - in uniforms, no less.

Others don't see it that way.

"Sometimes a bit of competition is good for you," Goosen said.

Among the things undecided are the format (stroke play, match play or both) and the rosters.

The Lake Nona crew features Els, Goosen, Sorenstam, Sergio Garcia, Nick Faldo and Trevor Immelman. Isleworth counters with Mark O'Meara, Stuart Appleby, Lee Janzen, John Cook and Scott Hoch.

It was unclear if Sorenstam would play.

The Kraft Nabisco Championship in the California desert, the first LPGA major, is the preceding week. The Tavistock Cup would be the week of the Office Depot Championship in Los Angeles, where Sorenstam is the defending champion.

TIGER CUBS: Tiger Woods hasn't set a wedding date yet, but he says children are definitely in his plans.

Woods got engaged to Swedish model Elin Nordegren during a late November safari in South Africa. They have been together for about two years, and Woods said marriage won't be a big adjustment.

"The biggest change is when you bring another life into the world," Woods said. "They're completely dependent on you. That's a big responsibility, and one that I know Elin and I will take very seriously. That will be the biggest adjustment to my time management."

He must have been talking about practice time, and not a loss of sleep.

"I don't sleep well, anyway," Woods said. "I'll be up all night. Doesn't really change from that aspect."

FINCHEM THE FAN: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem refers to 2003 as the season when everybody got something. The winners ranged from proven stars (Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh) to newcomers (Adam Scott, Ben Curtis, Chad Campbell) to the veterans (Peter Jacobsen, Kenny Perry, Fred Couples).

That doesn't mean he considers Woods to be any less a player.

"To me, Tiger was just as dominating a player in '03 as he was in any year except 2000," Finchem said during a brief stop at the Mercedes Championships. "His scoring average and five wins seems to testify to that. Everyone gets focused on the major championships. To me, it didn't take away from his year."

There were years when Woods has overwhelmed the competition. There are years when everything is up for grabs.

So, which is better for the tour?

Finchem says both.

"In the long run, it's better if we have strong competition," he said. "This is a personal opinion, as a fan. I have over the last 44 years liked it when a player like (Jack) Nicklaus dominated. I enjoyed watching that. I like it just as much in years when it was a free-for-all.

"In both cases ... we grow and grow and grow."

CHANGE IN COURSE: Only 23 of the 30 players at the Mercedes Championships will hop islands to Oahu for the Sony Open next week, and they're in for a big change.

The Plantation course at Kapalua is a big course with far more spectacular views, but it's hilly terrain makes it the toughest course on the PGA Tour to walk.

Waialae Country Club, site of the Sony Open, is a classic design with tight fairways, smaller greens and - this is great news for the caddies - it's relatively flat.

"It's like Augusta and Harbour Town," said Jim Furyk, who has won the Mercedes and Sony, although not in the same year. "Total opposites. That's probably for me the two trips that are the most difficult transition."

Furyk said the toughest transition is the greens.

The speed is slower at Kapalua because of the severe slope and strong grain. Waialae can make their greens faster because there's not as much grain or slope.

"Totally different courses, totally different way to play them," he said.

Ernie Els made the transition just fine last year, winning them both.