Notes: Tour drug tested Woods twice
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Tiger Woods said Thursday he has been tested twice for drugs under the PGA Tour’s anti-doping policy, including one time when he wasn’t even playing.
The drug testing program began July 1, a week after Woods had knee surgery that kept him out of golf until late February.
Asked the first time he was tested, Woods said it was in December at the Chevron World Challenge in California, the charity event he hosts at the end of the year. It was his first public appearance at any golf tournament since knee surgery.
Woods laughed at the coincidence of his first test.
The PGA Tour reserves the right to test any member out of competition, and Woods was asked at his press conference that day in December whether the Tour had ever come to his house for a drug test.
“No,” he said.
Asked if he was expecting a visit during his time off, Woods replied, “Yeah, actually.”
“Right after I got done telling you guys that, they were waiting for me,” he said.
Woods said he also was chosen for a drug test during the CA Championship at Doral in early March. He was not tested on his return to competition two weeks earlier at the Accenture Match Play Championship. Then again, he was only there for two rounds.
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SERGIO’S SWOON: No one has ever won back-to-back at The Players Championship, and Sergio Garcia made it sound Thursday as though that streak was going to continue. Ignore the 71 on his scorecard and listen to his comments.
“I’m playing so badly it makes me want to puke,” Garcia said.
Now, the 29-year-old Spaniard did take a double bogey on par-3 eighth and failed to birdie the par-5 ninth from a greenside bunker. He said he didn’t deserve to be 3 under, anyway.
“I was hitting the ball very poorly,” he said.
But what about the three birdies on his opening four holes?
“Didn’t matter,” he said, adding that he was not swinging well and that he was steering the ball.
Was he at least happy with his score?
“No, no,” he said. “I can’t be happy with anything. Obviously, 71 is not that bad a score. The course is playing the easiest that it’s going to play all week. If you play halfway decent, you’re going to shoot 68, 67, 69.”
Someone tried to cheer him up by saying that there’s always tomorrow.
“There’s always next week,” Garcia said, “back at home.”
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A COUPLE OF LEFTIES: Phil Mickelson played golf with another lefty on Wednesday – Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow.
Mickelson said he didn’t keep score, but he figured Tebow shot somewhere around 80 at Pablo Creek.
“He’s got a lot of clubhead speed, hits the ball pretty good,” Mickelson said. “Not a bad player at all.”
Mickelson is right-handed in everything but golf. Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner two years ago, does everything as a southpaw, which allowed him a few swings with Mickelson’s driver.
“Every time I use it now, I remember that he used my driver because there’s a big mark on the top of it,” Mickelson said.
It wasn’t just a day of golf. They also had a contest to see who could throw a football farther.
“He beat me by 2 yards,” Mickelson said. “He was on his knees, though.”
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MISTAKEN IDENTITY: The video boards across the TPC Sawgrass sometimes delve in the background of various players, but the fans behind the 17th green must have been surprised to learn this tidbit about Tiger Woods.
“Played handball at a high level in Sweden and was a tennis player since age 6.”
Blame that on a technical glitch when the electronic pages were out of sync. The name and face were of Woods, but the biographical material belonged to Richard S. Johnson.
And even the 5-foot-6 Swede wanted to make a few clarifications: It’s a team sport in Europe, and he wasn’t really that good.
But if he didn’t know any better, he could buy the fact Woods was a high-level handball player.
“He can probably jump as high as anybody,” Johnson said. “He’s probably the most athletic guy we have out here. I bet he’d be good at anything he did.”
There’s jumping in handball?
“Yeah, you’ve got to jump,” he said. “That’s why I quit.”
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OUT OF THERE: Oliver Wilson of England felt a twinge in his neck after one hole of practice on Wednesday, and it wound up keeping him from his debut in The Players Championship. That was good news for PGA Tour rookie Webb Simpson, the first alternate who spent the morning on the range until his name was called. But it went from downhill from there, as Simpson shot a 76.
D.A. Weibring, who got in as the Senior Players Champion, was 8 over after six holes when he withdrew. Former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell, who had not broken par in his previous nine rounds at Sawgrass, withdrew after a 45 on his opening nine.
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WATER BALLS: As expected, the island-green 17th hole had its share of victims Thursday with 14 balls in the water.
The surprise was that it wasn’t the most treacherous of the par 3s.
With the hole location at the back left corner of the green, the 13th hole had 18 balls in the water and ranked sixth in the degree of difficult for the opening round.
There is water in play on all but two holes at Sawgrass, and 89 balls were in the water overall.
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DIVOTS: The pairings are generated by a computer, and this computer clearly had no heart. Masters champion Angel Cabrera was in the same group as Kenny Perry, who lost to the Argentine on the second playoff hole at Augusta National. Cabrera had a 72, but it was anything but conventional. He didn’t make a par until his eighth hole – No. 17 – while making a triple bogey, three straight birdies, two straight bogeys and an eagle. Perry shot a 73. ... Jason Dufner, an alternate who got in when Brandt Snedeker withdrew because of a rib injury earlier in the week, was among those at 67. ... Rory Sabbatini didn’t make a birdie and shot 81.