PGA GRAND SLAM OF GOLF
Vijay Singh and Michael Campbell shared a laugh during a golf clinic yesterday at the Poipu Bay Golf Course.
Ailing Woods resting up for Slam
The five-time winner has a stomach virus, which may be the break the rest of the field needs
POIPU, Kauai » Tiger Woods is in bad shape, but it doesn't look like his record seventh appearance in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf is in jeopardy.
Suffering from a stomach virus, Woods took the recommendation of a local doctor and rested all day yesterday at his room in the Hyatt Regency Kauai in preparation for the Grand Slam today and tomorrow at the Poipu Bay Golf Course.
Woods, who skipped yesterday's pro-am, also has a sore ankle, which he re-aggravated on the first playoff hole during his victory in the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan on Sunday.
"It doesn't look like he's going to miss the Grand Slam," said PGA of America media relations director Julius Mason. "He wouldn't be here on Kauai if he wasn't planning on playing. We'll have the four golfers playing here."
An ill and injured Woods might be what the doctor ordered for the other three competitors. The only time Woods lost in the Grand Slam was in 1997, when he arrived with a cold and finished second by three strokes to Ernie Els.
Defending champion Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Michael Campbell plan on doing their best at preventing Woods from winning for a record sixth time and earning the $400,000 first-place check. Woods, who qualified this year by winning the Masters and British Open, won the Grand Slam every year from 1998 to 2002.
"To go out there and win, that's my approach. Go out and play good golf," Singh said bluntly after a stint on the putting green prior to yesterday's pro-am.
Singh, who lost to Woods in a Grand Slam playoff in 2000, doesn't have any special formula for taming the Tiger.
"Just go out and beat him," he said with a gigantic but serious smile. "It's as simple as that."
As everybody in the golf world knows, it's not usually that simple.
"I was surprised he wasn't here (for the pro-am)," Singh said. "I hope he turns up tomorrow."
Earlier yesterday, at the start of the Champions Skills Clinic, Singh quipped, "I think I'm getting a stomach virus already," which received some guffaws from the gallery.
But Singh has Woods to thank for getting him into the exclusive tournament, because Woods won two majors, leaving a hole in the four-man field of major winners. Retief Goosen, the original alternate based on a points list, dropped out and Singh got in.
"Obviously, this isn't the way I wanted to qualify," said Singh, who finished second to Woods in 1998 and 2000 and to Mickelson last year. "This is a dream for a lot of people. For me, it's the last event of the year. I'll take a month and a week off and start again on Maui (at the PGA Tour-opening Mercedes Championships in January). I'll work on getting my golf game in shape."
Mickelson was another no-show for yesterday's pro-am, leaving the local golfers only two pros to golf with instead of the four that organizers were counting on.
If his last round at Poipu Bay is any indication, Mickelson already has a feel for the course layout. The PGA Championship winner shot a course-record 13-under-par 59 to capture the Grand Slam title last year.
Woods shot a 61, his career-best competitive round, the last time he played here in 2002.
Mickelson is expected to arrive this morning.
Campbell, the U.S. Open champion, may be concealing his zeal to win.
"I look at this as a relaxing time," he said. "It's only two days and not a regular tournament. At some tournaments I'll arrive five days before and start preparing for it, and you're there for a whole week.
"This is a great spectacle, and sure, it would be nice to end the year by winning the event."