Wednesday, January 10, 2001
Tiger lookingTHE question isn't if Tiger Woods will successfully defend his title in the Mercedes Championships starting tomorrow at Kapalua, Maui.
to defend title
start tomorrow on Maui
Woods won't play Sony
By Bill Kwon
It's almost a given that he will.
But most golf fans might be wondering -- is Tiger's closely cropped hair still blond?
Woods dyed it blond as a lark, raising eyebrows on national television at the Orange Bowl.
He has since shaved his head. He's now bolo head.
Soon it'll grow back to black. But it's already back to business for Woods, who's coming off a month-long break.
Where: The Plantation Course, (Par 36-37-73) Kapalua, Maui
When: Tomorrow-Sunday Tomorrow-Saturday: 11 a.m. Sunday: 10:30 a.m.
Who: 33 champions from the 2000 PGA Tour
What: 72 holes, stroke play
Defending champion: Tiger Woods
Purse: $3.5 million (winner: $630,000)
Tickets: First and second rounds, $15 daily. Third and final rounds, $30 daily. Week pass: $60. Youth (16-under) free with paying adult
TV: ESPN, Tomorrow-Saturday, 2:30-5:30 p.m. HST; Sunday 3-5 p.m. HST
Woods, who won nine tournaments including three majors last year, will tee it up tomorrow morning at the par-73 Kapalua Plantation Course with 32 other 2000 PGA Tour champions in the exclusive winners-only field.
Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland is the only eligible player skipping the event.
Joining Woods, who earned a record $9.1 million on the PGA Tour in 2000, will be six others on the top-10 money list -- Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Hal Sutton, reigning Masters champion Vijay Singh and Tom Lehman.
Woods is scheduled to go off at 12:50 p.m. -- the last starting time for tomorrow's first round -- and his playing partner will be Paul Azinger, the Sony Open defending champion.
The 72-hole event has a $3.5 million purse with the winner getting $630,000 and a Mercedes-Benz SL500. There is no cut.
Woods and Els teed off the 2000 season with a memorable playoff last year. Woods matched Els' eagle on the 72nd hole and won with a 40-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole after they both birdied the par-5 18th.
Attendance is expected to surpass last year's gallery of 20,000, according to tournament director Nancy Cross.
"Tiger's a big reason for that," Cross said. "With him being the defending champion here, it adds even greater interest."
Not that the rest of the field is chopped liver.
Mickelson won four tournaments last year, while Jesper Parnevik, Hal Sutton and Notah Begay III were multiple winners.
Jim Carter, one of the eight first-time winners in the field, finds himself in the unique position of not defending a tournament title that got him into the Mercedes Championships.
He won the Tucson Open last year for his first tour victory in 292 starts to qualify. But the event was moved up in the tour calendar from late February to this week.
Actor Clint Eastwood and Joe Torre, manager of the world champion New York Yankees, were two of the celebrities who played in today's pro-am.
Starting Times for Tomorrow
10:10 a.m. -- Mike Weir. 10:20 -- Duffy Waldorf, Steve Lowery. 10:30 -- Billy Andrade, John Huston. 10:40 -- David Duval, David Toms.
10:50 -- Chris DiMarco, Justin Leonard. 11 -- Scott Verplank, Rory Sabatinni. 11:10 -- Ernie Els, Rocco Mediate. 11:20 -- Brad Faxon, Michael Clark II.
11:30 -- Notah Begay III, Loren Roberts. 11:40 -- Tom Scherrer, Dennis Paulson. 11:50 -- Robert Allenby, Carlos Franco. Noon -- Vijay Singh, Stewart Cink.
12:10 p.m. -- Dudley Hart, Hal Sutton. 12:20 -- Jim Carter, Jim Furyk. 12:30 -- Phil Mickelson, Kirk Triplett. 12:40 -- Jesper Parnevik, Tom Lehman. 12:50 -- Tiger Woods, Paul Azinger.
KAPALUA, Maui - Tiger Woods confirmed today that he will not be playing in next week's Sony Open in Hawaii golf tournament at Waialae Country Club. Woods, on Maui to compete in the Mercedes Championships, said he had thought about it but decided to pass on the 72-hole event scheduled for Jan. 18-21 on Oahu.
By Bill Kwon
Two other golfers who are entered in the Mercedes tournament also will not compete in the Sony Open. Phil Mickelson said he had other commitments while David Duval, who skipped last year's Sony as well, did not elaborate on his reasons for not playing next week.
Paul Azinger will return to defend his Sony Open title.