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Golf Notes December 17

Only two tournaments remain on the 2003 that count toward the world ranking, which is significant because the Masters takes the top 50 in the world at the end of the year.

Among those on the bubble are Loren Roberts (No. 47), who can only hope no one passes him after the Australian Open or the Okinawa Open on the Asian Tour.

Scott Hoch was No. 49 two weeks ago, but he already has dropped 10 spots.

Not to worry. Hoch isn't likely to lose any sleep over this.

Asked in September about falling out of the top 50 and missing out on the Masters, he feigned dismay.

``Oh, that would be a shame,'' Hoch said.

Hoch, who came within a 30-inch putt of winning the 1989 Masters, says the revamped Augusta National has become too tough for him to enjoy it, or at least look forward to it.

``When you finish, it's the happiest you've been all week,'' he said.


Darren Clarke and Ben Curtis both got off to a bad start at the Target World Challenge and were in the first pairing the last three days.

They were 19 strokes behind the leader Sunday when Clarke ambled onto the practice range with a cup of coffee and a message for the 26-year- old rookie.

``All right, let's get one thing clear. We need to play fast today,'' Clarke said with a big grin. ``My plane doesn't leave until quarter of nine, but I've got a lot to do.''

Curtis smiled back and said, ``Is four hours good enough?''

``No,'' Clarke said.

They played the first hole in six minutes, and finished the round in just under three hours.


No one will be in more dire need of a holiday break than Robert Allenby of Australia, who is playing seven straight weeks on four continents.

His journey began with the Tour Championship in Houston, followed by a trip to Japan for the Taheiyo Masters. Allenby next flew to South Africa for the Presidents Cup and the Nedbank Challenge, then went home and won the Australian Masters two weeks ago.

He planned to take a break last week, but when David Toms withdrew from the Target World Challenge because of a wrist injury, Allenby decided to take his spot and flew to California on Monday. He finished eighth and earned $195,000.

He was due to arrive in Australia on Tuesday, just in time for his 36- hole charity event (which raised $1 million). Allenby will be at Yarra Yarra for 12 hours, then attend a black-tie dinner until midnight.

He has a Thursday afternoon tee time for the Australian Open at Moonah Links, a course he has never seen.

Then what?

Back to Florida, where he plans to spend the holidays with his wife and two children.

``I'm going to Jesper Parnevik's party on New Year's Eve,'' he said. ``You can't miss that.''


Donna Andrews has been re-elected president of the LPGA Tour executive committee. ... Darren Clarke took up PGA Tour membership for 2004, but he's not ready to buy a home. He plans to rent a house near Jupiter, Fla., for a month so he can have a place to stay during the run to the Masters. ... Vijay Singh wasn't completely shut out of the awards. He was selected as golfer of the month by European media for winning the PGA Tour money title over Tiger Woods. ... The two biggest sports in Daytona Beach, Fla., will join forces early next year when the LPGA and NASCAR have a charity pro-am Feb. 4-5. Amateurs will be paired with an LPGA Tour player for nine holes and a NASCAR driver or racing celebrity for another nine holes on the Legends course at LPGA International. ... Joining Ben Curtis and John Daly as European Tour members next year will be Rob Rashell, who got his card through European Q-school. His only claim to fame so far is being born on Dec. 30, 1975, the same day as Tiger Woods.


Annika Sorenstam won as much money ($225,000) in one Skins Game appearance as Tiger Woods in four appearances.


``Are you media?'' -- Tiger Woods, when asked by ABC Sports announcer Mike Tirico and analyst Curtis Strange if they would be invited to his wedding.

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