Thursday, September 19, 2002

Tiger cool toward Olympic golf

PGA Notebook

AP Golf Writer

        THOMASTOWN, Ireland — Tiger Woods would rather play for green than gold. While not ruling out a possible trip to the Olympics should golf be added to the 2008 games in Beijing, Woods said a gold medal wouldn't be the biggest prize in his sport.

        “It certainly does excite me,” Woods said. “But which one would you rather win? An Olympic gold medal or one of the four major championships?”

        Woods already has won three green jackets at Augusta National, along with two PGAs and a British and U.S. Open.

        Woods will be 32 when the Olympics go to China, very much in his prime.

        His participation could be critical to golf's hopes of getting onto the Olympic program. The International Olympic Committee is said to be interested only if the World Amateur Golf Council — the official golf federation for the Olympics — can ensure the top players.


        SERGIO MEETS A STAR: Sergio Garcia won the Korean Open two weeks ago, but the big thrill came the following week when he didn't play.

        “I met Ronaldo,” Garcia said.

        Ronaldo, who scored twice for Brazil in the World Cup final, was recently traded to Real Madrid, Garcia's favorite soccer club in Spain.

        Garcia, who often plays tennis with girlfriend Martina Hingis, was asked if he and Ronaldo played golf or soccer.

        “We're going to have a golf game, but I just met him,” Garcia said.


        STILL BEEMIN': PGA champion Rich Beem will have to set some new goals.

        Having barely kept his card for the 2002 season, Beem had three things he wanted to accomplish this year — win enough money to secure his card and get into invitational events; win tournaments and surpass $1 million in earnings; and put himself in position to make the Ryder Cup team for 2004.

        The PGA Championship, where he held off Tiger Woods, did wonders.

        Beem has won twice this year (International, PGA), is fourth on the PGA Tour money list with over $2.7 million, and is third on the '04 Ryder Cup points list.

        “I'm way ahead of the game,” Beem said. “I have to go back to the drawing board and get some new goals. I don't know where to go from here. I've totally exceeded every expectation I could have dreamed of.”

        One other thing he hasn't figured out: what to do with all that money.

        Beem said his only big expenditure so far was a diamond necklace for his wife.

        “After the International win, I went ahead and bought a pool,” he said. “I'm hoping to get a porch for Christmas.”


        PLAYING OUT THE STRING: David Duval isn't giving up hope on making it to the Tour Championship, a tournament for the top 30 money-winners that he has never missed since his rookie season in 1995.

        Duval is 95th on the PGA Tour money list with just under $600,000, and he would need a victory this week just to get close to the top 30.

        If he doesn't make it to East Lake, it won't be from a lack of effort.

        Duval said he plans to play every tournament the rest of the year as soon as the Ryder Cup is over — Michelob, Las Vegas, Disney and Callaway Gardens. If he does, that will be the most tournaments he has played in one year since 1997.

        “It feels like this year never really started for me,” Duval said.


        PREFERENTIAL CUP: While most of the talk in Ireland this week is about the Ryder Cup, Craig Parry of Australia is among those who could care less.

        “I think I might have watched 20 minutes in all the years,” Parry said. “Most of the time, I was always in Australia when the Ryder Cup was going on.”

        He doesn't care who wins since he has friends on both teams, and said Europeans probably feel the same way about the Presidents Cup.

        He might have caused a stir when asked whether the International team at the Presidents Cup would ever be as strong as Europe's team in the Ryder Cup.

        “It is now, isn't it?” Parry said.

        He's right about that.

        Parry is 12th on the Presidents Cup standings at No. 44 in the world ranking. Only six players on Europe's team are ranked ahead of him.


        DIVOTS: Gary Evans of England probably needs to win this week to have a chance at joining Justin Rose in the World Cup. Otherwise, Rose will be with Nick Faldo. ... Beem has a busy schedule at the end of the year. He'll play in the Three-Tour Challenge, the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, the Australian Open, the Hyundai Team Matches, and he has been offered a sponsor's exemption into Tiger Woods' tournament, the Target World Challenge. ... Mike Weir needs a strong finish to his season to have a chance at defending in the Tour Championship. He is No. 69 on the money list.


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