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'New Tiger' measures up to Sabbatini

Woods fires back after comments.

By BOB HARIG
Published May 12, 2007


PONTE VEDRA BEACH - Take that, Rory.

Tiger Woods, as expected, had a comeback for Rory Sabbatini, who a day earlier said Woods is "more beatable than ever" and that he liked "the new Tiger."

"Well, if I remember the quote correctly, he said he likes the new Tiger, " Woods, left, said Friday after shooting 1-over 73 to make the 36-hole cut by one. "I figure I've won nine out of 12 and I've won three times this year, the same amount he's won in his career. So I like the new Tiger as well."

Sabbatini, the 31-year-old first-round co-leader who dropped seven back after 79, said: "If you're going to challenge yourself, you want to challenge yourself against the best. Tiger is the best. It wasn't meant as a dig against Tiger. I want to compare myself to him. He's the best in the world."

 

First-timer

Tom Lehman, above, had played 55 rounds in the Players Championship and always found dry land at 17 - until Friday.

"I was hoping to play my whole career without knocking it in the water, " he said. "There's one thing about just trying to get it on the green. There's another with trying to play a good shot and make a score. Both my playing partners hit 9-irons and both shot up in the air and came up way short. Then the wind picked up even harder. I took out my 8-iron and was going to hit a punch shot, a little smoothie. As soon as I hit it, the wind shifted and that thing never had a chance. It was wet the minute I hit it. It's a little bit unlucky."

He played an excellent chip shot from behind the green to save bogey and finished at 143, 1 under and four shots back.

Nice comeback I

Charley Hoffman made 9 on the 10th hole Thursday, his first. But he rebounded to shoot 75, then shot 69 Friday to finish at par. "If you would have told me I was even par after making a 9 on the first hole, I probably wouldn't have believed you, " said Hoffman, who won the Bob Hope Classic. "I think it got me focused and ready to play the next 35 holes."

Nice comeback II

Jose Maria Olazabal rebounded, following 78 with 66. The difference? "Twelve strokes, " he said. Olazabal got back to par with his 6-under effort. "I didn't hit the ball much different, meaning that I didn't strike the ball all that well, " he said. "But I managed to keep the ball in play off the tee more than I did. And when the putts go in, it makes the difference."

Around Sawgrass

No defending champion has won, and that trend will continue after Stephen Ames missed the cut with scores of 77-79. ... Hunter Mahan recorded a rare double eagle at the par-5 11th. He holed his second shot from 227 yards with a 5-iron. It was the first double eagle in tournament history. ... The 36-hole cut came at 5 over, tying for third-highest in tournament history.