Woods returns to competition, says he's 'fine-tuning' his game
When last seen at a golf tournament, Tiger Woods was leaving early from the PGA Championship after missing the cut. He didn't qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, giving him a long break that he wasn't expecting.
If there was an upside that day in Atlanta, Woods figured he would have "nothing to do but work on my game."
And that's what he did.
He showed up Wednesday at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif., for the Frys.com Open knowing that whatever happens over the next two or four days, it won't be from a lack of practice.
Woods said he has routinely played 36 holes — sometimes 45 holes — a day at his new home in South Florida, and he noticed his scores getting lower and lower until he set the course record last week at The Medalist with a 62. Robert Allenby recalls seeing Woods at The Bear's Club one day in the morning and into the late afternoon.
"The major overhauls are done," Woods said. "I've done all that work. Now, it's just fine-tuning."
It's a transition he might not ever have expected, going from a major championship to a Fall Series event, with a seven-week break in between. The Fall Series was designed to give most players a chance to secure their PGA Tour cards for next year, and the field is loaded with such players.
There are only six players from the top 50 on the money list, and 26 from the top 100. Rory Sabbatini at No. 27 is the highest-ranked player from the PGA Tour money list.
And then there is Woods, who is No. 118 after having entered only eight PGA Tour events and going the distance in five of them. He hasn't won on the PGA Tour since the 2009 BMW Invitational, and hasn't won anywhere since the Australian Masters on Nov. 15, 2009.
■ Tiger Woods has his first major endorsement since his downfall two years ago, announcing a deal Wednesday with Rolex to be one of its ambassadors. Woods had lost five major endorsements in the two years since he was exposed for serial adultery and eventually divorced: AT&T, Accenture, Tag Heuer, Gatorade and Gillette. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although it is believed to be longer than five years. "This makes a big statement," said his agent, Mark Steinberg. "I think this shows me where people are with Tiger Woods."
Chase race tight heading to Kansas
Three races into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, no clear-cut favorite has emerged out of the pack of 12. The standings are so tight entering the fourth Chase race this weekend at Kansas Speedway that there's a tie at the top. Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards have the same number of points — but Harvick holds the tiebreaker because of his four season victories compared with Edwards' one. The top eight drivers are separated by only 15 points — the top nine by 19. "I don't think you're going to see anybody come in here and dominate," Harvick said. "It's just a matter of keeping yourself in it until you get to the last couple of races."
Filly champ wins at Belmont to go 7-0
Awesome Feather, last season's unbeaten champion 2-year-old filly, won the $58,800 Le Slew Stakes in her comeback race at Belmont Park on Wednesday to put her record at 7-for-7. The 1-5 favorite beat Sentimental Lass by 2 lengths in the 7-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies. Owner Frank Stronach bought Awesome Feather for $2.3 million several days after her Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies victory last November. She had been sidelined with a tendon problem.
Marshall ends men's soccer home streak
Diego Ayala and Tom Jackson scored goals to give the Marshall men's soccer team a 2-0 win at Kentucky on Wednesday night, ending the Wildcats' school-record home unbeaten streak. UK (7-6-1, 0-3-0 Conference USA) had not lost in its last 11 matches at home, including a 5-0-1 mark this season. UK lost despite outshooting Marshall (6-4-0, 3-0-0 C-USA) 13-3 in the second half.
Quigley, Musialek to play in nationals
UK men's tennis seniors Eric Quigley and Alex Musialek will compete in both the singles and doubles main draw at 2011 Men's Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championships, beginning Thursday in Tulsa, Okla. Quigley, who is ranked No. 3 in the nation in singles, and No. 20 Musialek are in the singles main draw. The duo began the fall season ranked No. 19 in the nation in doubles. Quigley and Musialek have played one collegiate match together as a doubles team.
SPORTS IN THE COURTS
Ex-gymnastics champ pleads not guilty
Olympic gymnastics champion Paul Hamm pleaded not guilty to assault and two other misdemeanor charges in Ohio. He is accused of kicking a taxi driver in suburban Columbus, damaging a cab window and refusing to pay a $23 fare. He was heard on video telling police he'd had about eight drinks. Hamm had been an Ohio State assistant gymnastics coach since June but was fired after his arrest in September.
Ex-NBA player faces felony gun charge
Prosecutors have filed a felony weapons charge against former NBA player Darius Miles for allegedly trying to take a loaded handgun through security at a St. Louis airport two months ago. St. Louis County prosecutors charged Miles on Friday with the unlawful use of a weapon, which carries a maximum four-year prison term, for allegedly trying to pass through Lambert Airport security with the gun in his carry-on bag on Aug. 3. Miles, 29, arrived at St. Louis County jail on Monday and posted 10 percent of his $15,000 bond before leaving, a jail official said.
The last word
Phil Sheridan of The Philadelphia Inquirer, on Tony La Russa's incessant lineup changes and double-switches managing the St. Louis Cardinals:
"His lineup card looks like a harshly graded freshman essay by the end of the game."