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PGA: Stephen Ames coasts to six shot win
PGA: Tiger Woods ends difficult week with 75
Euro: Van de Velde ends 13 year victory wait
Stephen Ames vaults to World No. 27
Boost for the Philippine Open
Tiger Woods misses practice to be with father

PGA Tour ready to challenge Tiger again

Welcome back, Tiger Woods. As you get ready to rejoin the PGA Tour this week at the Buick Invitational in San Diego, your colleagues have been busy sending you a message.

Ernie Els has been dominant, winning the Mercedes Championships and the Sony Open and earning $1,810,000. Catch him, if you can.

Vijay Singh wants a piece of you, too. He captured the Phoenix Open, has more than $1 million in winnings and sounds ready to take you on, anywhere, anytime.

Phil Mickelson said your Nike equipment is inferior, but you're too good to let it affect you. And Davis Love III and Tom Lehman sound rejuvenated, simply adding to the long list of players eager to bring you back to the pack.


Singh and several other players suggested technological advances have closed the gap between Woods and the chase pack.

"I've gained seven (yards)," Singh said of his drives with the new Titleist Pro V1x ball. "You can stop the ball, you can spin the ball. It's pretty much what everybody is looking for. You hit it a long ways; you can control it."

Love, 38, and Lehman, 46, sound hopeful of a rebirth. Sunday, they showed flashes of their old brilliance, with Love shooting 68 to win the AT&T and Lehman firing a 67 to finish second.

"We all set goals for ourselves going into new years, and mine was to get myself in position to win some tournaments," Lehman said. "I really think I still have the game and I have the desire."

Said Love: "Obviously you want to win every week, and that's what Ernie is basically doing. But I came out with a good attitude that I'm going to try to get better this year rather than holding ground."

For all the talk of taming Tiger, who has missed the first five starts of this season because of a knee injury, Mark O'Meara, one of Woods's closest friends, suggested pulling even with the game's greatest player will still prove difficult.

"I would figure him good for possibly a couple major championships this year," O'Meara said. "Right now I think he is relaxed with who he is, what he accomplished and what he is trying to do.

"He can put the clubs away and doesn't panic. That's the sign of a guy who is starting to arrive. We have seen unbelievable things out of him, but we are going to continue to see that he is the man setting the bar, always."

 

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