tampabay.com

Not a surprise

Tiger struggles.

By BOB HARIG
Published May 11, 2007


PONTE VEDRA BEACH - Given Tiger Woods' recent play, including a victory Sunday at the Wachovia Championship, it might seem surprising that he opened the Players Championship with 75.

But his first-round score at the TPC Sawgrass is nothing new for the world's No. 1-ranked player. Although Woods, above, matched his career worst at this event, he did so for the seventh time.

He shot 75 in the last round in 2006.

Despite 3-over par, he did not seem concerned.

"I enjoy this test, " he said after three three-putt bogeys and no birdies. "I mean, you have to place the golf ball. That's how Pete (Dye) designed all of his golf courses. You've got to place the golf ball correctly, and if you don't, there's going to be a consequence for it."

Woods hit just nine greens in regulation and had 31 putts. But he has a strange record at the tournament. He finished second in 2000 and won in 2001, his only top-10 finishes in 10 appearances. Since winning in 2001, he has just four rounds in the 60s.

"I've just got to keep doing like I did, stay patient, hit the ball as consistently as I did all day, " he said. "I've just got to make a few more putts."

Shouldering on

Chris DiMarco, above, has not posted a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since finishing second to Woods in July at the British Open. Turns out, a bum shoulder is part of the problem.

"Either I need to forget about it and play on or get it fixed, so I'm going to forget about it and play on, " said DiMarco, who shot 68 to trail first-round co-leaders Phil Mickelson and Rory Sabbatini by a stroke.

DiMarco, 38, said he has bone spurs, arthritis and tendonitis in his rotator cuff. He said he is considering arthroscopic surgery in the fall.

"After that, it will take about a month and a half to be fully back to where I need to be, " DiMarco said.

Around Sawgrass

Japan's Daisuke Maruyama withdrew after shooting 85. ... England's David Howell withdrew after just two holes, complaining of a bad back. ... Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke withdrew after six holes, citing a hamstring injury. ... Defending champion Stephen Ames had a tough day, with double bogeys at two par 5s that led to 77.

The gigantic clubhouse

They made a lot of changes at the Players Championship, none bigger than the clubhouse. The old one with 70s style architecture was torn down and replaced by a Mediterranean Revival look that is 40 percent larger. It is so big it can be seen from 12 of the 18 holes. The design resembles downtown St. Augustine buildings constructed in the late 19th century by railroad and hotel tycoon Henry Flagler.

A huge gap

The Official World Golf Ranking may be complex, but it is easy to see how big a lead Tiger Woods has. Players are listed based on their average points for a specific period, but Woods' total is 440.7 more than No. 2 Jim Furyk. To put that in perspective, Furyk's total is 411.02 more than David Gilford - who is ranked 1, 354th.

Caddie conquest

Competition among caddies at the par-3 17th island hole is an annual tradition at the TPC. During practice rounds Wednesday, many used their pros' clubs. Roy Farnell, who caddies for Greg Owen, knocked his approach to 5 feet, 3 inches and claimed an Omega watch. And players used the occasion to contribute to a fund for ALS research in honor of Bruce Edwards, who lived in Ponte Vedra Beach and died in 2004.