Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, November 24, 1999

P G A _ G R A N D _ S L A M

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Tiger Woods watches his putt for par drop on
hole No. 3 in today's match.

Woods, Love slam
the Europeans

Olazabal and Lawrie are no
match for the Americans in the
first round of the Grand Slam

By Bill Kwon


POIPU, Kauai -- For Tiger Woods, it was the longest Tuesday of his life, having flown in from Japan yesterday morning and defeating British Open champion Paul Lawrie, 3 and 2, seven hours later to advance to today's PGA Grand Slam of Golf title match against Davis Love III.

It was a much shorter day for Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal, who lost to Love, 6 and 5, in the other first-round match. Olazabal didn't have to worry about any wild celebrating on the 17th green. He got closed out at No. 13.

And so it was a 2-0 victory for the Americans in this mini-Ryder Cup played in ideal conditions.

Woods and Love, two members of the winning American Ryder Cup team, will meet for the $400,000 top prize, with the loser getting $250,000.

In this morning's third-place match, Olazabal defeated Lawrie to win a cool $150,000. Lawrie, who pocketed $100,000, couldn't continue after twisting his ankle going to the 10th tee.

"It should be an emotional match," said Woods, the PGA champion. "Davis and I play a similar game. We both hit it long."

Tiger's on a roll, having won nine of the last 13 events he has entered, including the World Cup in Malaysia over the weekend.

Love has a little incentive of his own.

"I didn't just come here to fill a spot," said Love, who replaced Payne Stewart, the U.S. Open champion who died in a plane crash last month.

"I want to play with the same passion and desire like Payne would have played. That's one of the reasons why I came here."

Wearing a Jesus bracelet he got at Stewart's funeral services, Love shot a 7-under 29 at the turn and added two more birdies at 10 and 12. "My security blanket," he said of the bracelet.

Love forgot it at his hotel room and went back to get it before teeing off. Poor Olazabal, he never had a chance.

"What can I say?" Olazabal shrugged. Even an eagle-3 he got was only good for a halve.

He was on the green in two at the par-5 second, looking at an eagle putt from eighth feet. Love holed out his bunker shot to get his eagle first.

Love thought that was a huge turning point.

"Now he's got to make it for a tie. All of a sudden, I snatched it away from him," said Love, who went on a seven-birdie binge over the next 10 holes.

"From then on, he played perfect," Olazabal said.

Love's round got the attention of Woods, who had five birdies in also posting a bogey-free round before closing out Lawrie.

Woods never trailed in the match, leading 1-up three times -- the second after Lawrie's only bogey of the day at the eighth hole. Woods then birdied 14 and 15 to go 3-up. He was 15 feet away for another birdie at the 501-yard, par-4 16th when Lawrie conceded the match after missing his birdie attempt.

"I didn't play badly. I was 2-under when I got beat," Lawrie said.

Woods admitted the overnight trip from Japan made him feel a little "spacey" early in his match.

"It showed on the greens," said Woods, who missed three short putts, including a 2-footer for birdie after he got on in two at the par-5 second.

"I started to wake up and played a little better. I think I'll feel a lot better tomorrow," said Woods, who is hoping to become the first player since Greg Norman to win back-to-back Grand Slams.

It figures to be an interesting final.

Love is only the third alternate to play in the Grand Slam -- a good omen since the other two went on to win -- Norman in 1994 and Woods last year.

Love is hoping that the third time will be a charm. Plus, he'll be wearing that bracelet, remember?

NOTES: Unlike last year when the 6,957-yard Poipu Bay Course was like a wind tunnel with 35 mph gusts, gentle breezes made it play a lot easier yesterday. The 394-yard 10th hole is a good example, said Woods, who beat Vijay Singh, 2-up, to win last year. "Last year I hit driver, 4-iron. Today I hit driver, sand wedge." ... Woods is only the 11th player in history to win both the Vardon Trophy and the PGA of America Player of the Year award... Lawrie plans to play the majority of the PGA Tour events next year, beginning with the Mercedes Championship and the Sony Open in Hawaii ... Woods will play at Kapalua, but isn't sure about Waialae ... "I'd love to play in the Mercedes, but I don't think they'll allow me," kidded Love, who didn't win a tournament this year but still finished third on the money list behind Woods and David Duval. He will play in the Sony Open.

Tiger bags a Buick

Tiger Woods has agreed to a deal in which he will carry the Buick logo on his golf bag next year, Golfweek Magazine reports.

In a report on its Web site, Golfweek cited industry sources as saying the deal will pay Woods between $10 million and $15 million during the next two years.

Woods' agent at IMG was in Hawaii and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Next to the hat, a player's bag is the most visible and attractive to corporate sponsors. Woods' has carried a Titleist bag since turning pro. The magazine said Woods likely would carry the name of another General Motors brand for overseas events.

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