tampabay.com

Without wind, this Monster isn't scary

By BOB HARIG
Published March 6, 2005


MIAMI - So much for the vaunted "Blue Monster." What was once one of the most feared courses on the PGA Tour has been relegated to a virtual pitch and putt tract this week at the Ford Championship.

Relatively soft conditions and barely any wind have contributed to the carnage. Through three rounds, 79 of the 82 players who made the cut are under par, and 10 under is only good enough for a tie for 20th.

"The golf course is so benign right now that you just have to be aggressive and go ahead and try and make as many birdies as you possibly can," said Tiger Woods, who trailed third-round leader Phil Mickelson by two strokes after Saturday. "Look at the (leaderboard), I think 13- or 14-under is in the top-10. That's pretty low." "The defense of the golf course is the wind, and we haven't had much of it the first three rounds," Mickelson said. HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Before teeing off, Woods called his father, Earl, in California to wish him a happy birthday.

"It was kind of cool," Woods said. "We talked for a while and I promised him I would shoot a low one for him. I said, "I promise you one thing, I won't shoot your age.' "

The older Woods turned 73. Tiger shot 63.

WHO'S HE? Joey Snyder III is a name that popped up on the leaderboard Friday and had more than a few fans scratching their heads. Joey Snyder? He's playing in his sixth PGA Tour event after needing nine tries to make it through the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament.

Snyder, 31, played college golf at Arizona State, and his last victory of note came as an amateur at the 1996 Porter Cup. He toiled on various minitours and once made it to the Nationwide Tour, where he played in 1998-99.

"It definitely makes you enjoy it a lot more, taking that long," said Snyder, who shot 70Saturday and was tied for 14th. His best finish this year was a tie for 11th.

AROUND DORAL: Retief Goosen, ranked fifth in the world, was bothered by an infection in his finger that made it difficult to grip the club. Goosen shot 73 to fall out of contention. ... After a nice start to the tournament, Tampa's Ryuji Imada slipped with 78. He was in 80th place. ... This was the 19th time Mickelson held or shared a lead starting the final round. He has won 14 of those, including the past five. In those final rounds his scoring average was 69.813. ... Four players among the top 10 in the world - No. 1 Vijay Singh, No. 2 Woods, No. 4 Mickelson and No. 9 David Toms - were in the top nine in the tournament.