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Tiger to be even more selective over schedule

What's it like to be Tiger Woods?

Well, before he hits his first shot of the calendar year, he's already made tens of millions of dollars in endorsement money. He wins a lot more than he loses, and he gets to be VERY selective about where and when he plays golf.

And because of his status as the world's No. 1 golfer, he gets asked on a semi-regular basis what it's like to be him.

"It's nice because you get to do what you like to do for a living," Woods said Wednesday after his practice round at Muirfield Village Golf Club in preparation for today's start of the 28th Memorial Tournament. "I mean that's what I dreamed about when I was a kid. Some of the extra stuff that comes with the responsibility of being in the position I'm in, it's just part of it. I don't fight it anymore, but I did at first. There is no class that will ever prepare you for it. I just got to go out there and learn through your own experiences."

It's obvious Woods has learned fairly well from those experiences. He's become the dominant player in the game and has maintained that position for a lengthy period of time.

He now knows what to say and when to say it, which many times means not saying anything at all. And he's learned to tailor his schedule to the point that it serves several purposes: it allows him to peak at the appropriate times during the season, while providing him with the time necessary to take care of his other responsibilities.

Which explains partially the fact that, for the first time in his career, he'll only be playing twice between the Masters and the U.S. Open: the Deutsche Bank Open in Germany and this week's tournament that Jack (Nicklaus) built.

"I wanted to play Wachovia (three weeks ago), but it just didn't work out," Woods said. "I wasn't rested. I was shooting commercials and doing all different things, and my time commitment for my foundation didn't allow me to practice and get away. I wasn't able to unwind from Augusta as much as I needed to and get focused for the next major. I took another week off to prepare. Actually, I'm glad I did. I was ready for Germany.

"I really don't think it's a big deal that I've only played twice. My practice sessions have really been good. I just need to get on some good greens. The ones in Germany really made me appreciate what we have over here."

He announced himself prepared to become the first four-time winner of the Memorial after hitting the ball well in Germany and then striking it well enough during his practice round yesterday to give him a good feeling.

"Really my game feels pretty good," he said. "I hit it pretty good over there, but I just didn't putt well on those things."

Woods hasn't won since Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Invitational and has played in only six events, but yet he's third on the money list behind Davis Love III and Mike Weir.

"Those guys have had great years, but I look at the fact that I've only played in six tournaments and I'm up there," Woods said. "That's the positive side. I'll see where I am at the end of the summer. "

The negative side -- at least for fans who like watching Woods play -- is that the continuing rehabilitation of his surgically-repaired knee will most likely force him to alter his schedule.

"I'll probably play fewer this year than normal," he said. "It means probably taking a couple tournaments out and getting enough rest while rehabbing the knee in an effort to get it to get it stronger. It's not 100 percent yet."

= Notes -- Greensburg native Rocco Mediate drew a pair of good starting times, teeing off at 10 a.m. today and 12:50 p.m. Friday. His playing partners the first two days are Steve Flesch and Jerry Kelly. ... Woods starts at 12:30 p.m. today and 9:30 a.m. Friday. ... This year's Memorial Tournament honorees are Bill Campbell and Julius Boros. A ceremony in their honor was held yesterday. ... Nicklaus decided to beef up the 17th hole at Muirfield Village, turning it from a 430-yard "blah par four" as he described it into a 478-yard monster. At least that's what he thought. In Woods' practice round, he played the hole with a 3-wood and 7-iron.


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