BETHESDA, Md. – Even when he was just learning to play golf, Tiger Woods never had any trouble breaking par. He owes that to his father making sure the bar was never set too high.
Earl Woods used to determine how many perfect shots his son needed to reach the green, then added two for the putts. As he got older and could hit the ball farther, par was reduced until it became regulation.
“The biggest argument Tiger and I have ever been involved with was changing his par,” Earl Woods said in a 2000 interview. “I changed the par from 8 to 7 and he would complain, ‘No, no, no.’ And then he would shoot sub-par. He never developed a comfort zone.”
Woods recalled those days during his news conference Tuesday, especially when his father lowered par.
“Say it was a par 4 and it took me four to get there; the first time I got there in three, par automatically went down,” Woods said. “Sometimes, he didn’t know that I would lay up a couple times, not get the ball to the green, so I wouldn’t have to drop par. And then he started catching on and he’d drop par anyway. It was his way of being creative enough where it taught me never to be afraid to go low.
“If I had a hot day, run with it.”
Strangely, though, Woods doesn’t prefer to play tournaments where he has to shoot 65 just to keep in contention.
Woods’ career-best is a 61, and he has won 28 times on the PGA Tour when his score was 270 or lower. He goes into the AT&T National having finished at par or better at every tournament over the past two years.
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GOYDOS ON THE GO: Paul Goydos tied for second last week at the Travelers Championship, which came with a big check and a small consolation. He moved into position to qualify for the British Open on a special, cumulative money list.
The British Open exempts the top two players (not already eligible) on a money list that includes The Players Championship, Memorial, St. Jude Classic, U.S. Open, Travelers Championship and this week’s AT&T National.
Goydos earned $528,000 at Hartford, putting his total on the special money list at $759,467. That puts him atop the list among players not already eligible, leading U.S. Open runner-up Ricky Barnes ($588,762), John Mallinger ($584,319) and Kevin Na ($584,150).
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PRO-AM PLAN: Starting next year, not playing in the pro-am won’t necessarily mean being disqualified from PGA Tour events.
Under a plan that the Policy Board adopted Tuesday, some players might have the option of skipping the round of golf with amateur clients in exchange for attending a corporate function during the tournament, such as a dinner or cocktail party with top clients.
The idea originated from the Tour Championship two years ago, when the greens at East Lake were in such bad shape from the heat that the pro-am was canceled and players instead took part in a Q&A with amateurs at breakfast.
“The sponsors loved it,” Davis Love III said. “That’s what got this thing going.”
Love said the players ultimately would have the last word in case they need to participate in the pro-am to see the golf course. But he said it might help some players decide to play a tournament if they otherwise would miss because of family obligations.
Under the guidelines, anyone finishing in the top 30 on the money list of FedEx Cup standings could pick two tournaments where they can elect something other than the pro-am. Also, no more than three players per tournament could sign up for something other than the pro-am. Most of the arrangements would be decided a month in advance.
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MAJOR STREAK: Phil Mickelson’s wife, Amy, is to have surgery Wednesday to learn the scope of her breast cancer. Mickelson already has said it was “unlikely” he would play in the British Open during the early stages of her treatment.
If that’s the case, it would end the longest active streak in the majors.
Mickelson has played 61 dating to the 1994 U.S. Open – he missed the Masters that year after breaking his leg while skiing. Next in line would be Vijay Singh, who has played 60 consecutive majors.
No one from this generation is likely to match the majors streak set by Jack Nicklaus, who played 146 in a row, from the 1962 Masters through the 1998 U.S. Open.
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ENEMY TERRITORY: Tiger Woods didn’t have a full appreciation of his market at the AT&T National.
It’s one thing for Woods to play with a celebrity in the pro-am, even an NFL quarterback. It’s quite another when that quarterback is Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys, playing before fans who live for the Washington Redskins.
“I didn’t realize it was going to be this big a deal,” Woods said.
It will be the second quarterback with whom Woods has played in a pro-am this year. He played with Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts at the Quail Hollow Championship.
The difference might be in crowd reaction.
“It’s going to be a fun round, but also an interesting one,” Woods said. “Granted, he’s used to getting booed, and it is what it is.”
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DIVOTS: The Barclays will be held at Ridgewood Country Club in 2010, then move to Plainfield Country Club in 2011. … Rich Beem’s effort to raise money for Dallas Cowboys scouting assistant Rich Behm, injured when the team’s practice facility collapsed, raised $10,321. It started out as Beem wanting only to auction the clubs he used at the two Dallas-area tournaments. … Rhode Island Country Club will host the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2011, and The Country Club in Cleveland will host it a year later. … Kenny Perry went over the $30 million mark in career earnings last week.
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STAT OF THE WEEK: Fred Couples won his first PGA Tour event in 1983 at Congressional when it was called the Kemper Open.
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FINAL WORD: “Fans actually knew who I was for once.” – U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover on the support he received in Hartford.