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Woods withdraws from 84 Lumber Classic

The traffic on the two-lane roads leading to the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort figures to be much lighter now, the galleries smaller. There's no more hype about No. 1 vs. No. 2, or the 84 Lumber Classic becoming the PGA's fall classic.

What Tiger Woods brings to a tournament he can take away, and Woods' pullout Tuesday eliminated much of the buzz surrounding what was promising to be one of the PGA Tour's best post-major tournaments.

Now, No. 1-ranked Vijay Singh can reprise his Canadian Open dual against Mike Weir, but there's no danger of No. 2 Woods unseating him to reclaim the world ranking he held for about five years, Instead of 21 of the top 30 money winners -- an excellent fall field -- there are only 19.

Rather than five Ryder Cup golfers, there are three (Chris DiMarco, Stewart Cink, David Toms). Kenny Perry, No. 26 on the money list, also pulled out after deciding not to play in next week's World Golf Championship event in Ireland.

The field is significantly upgraded from a year ago, when only one of the top 21 money winners showed up at the resort where the tournament is held. But defending champion J.L. Lewis said any tournament with Woods playing has a more important feel to it, and he wishes Woods was around.

``Ernie Els, too, anybody who's in the top 20 or 30 in world,'' Lewis said Tuesday. ``It's always good to have Tiger in the field.''

Tournament officials, most notably 84 Lumber founder Joe Hardy, were disappointed by the news, especially after they spent considerable money promoting Woods' appearance. Newspaper ads that ran Tuesday in area newspapers still boasted of his presence.

Woods cited fatigue following the United States' unexpectedly poor showing in its 18 1/2-9 1/2 loss to Europe last weekend in the Ryder Cup in suburban Detroit. Woods won only two of five matches, and his twin losses Friday with Dream Team partner Phil Mickelson was the precursor of the Europeans' rout.

``I told everybody I thought the U.S. was going to kill them, so that shows you what I know about it,'' Lewis said. ``The Europeans, I don't think anybody in Europe expected them to win, maybe a few on the inside. How could you? But they didn't have pressure on them, and I think pressure played a big role in it.''

Aaron Baddeley was one of the few PGA Tour regulars who predicted a European victory, but even he was surprised at how easily the win came.

``I thought, as a team, they were all playing better,'' he said. ``The ball was definitely on the Europeans' side.''

Numerous theories were floated for the Americans' collapse, including their uptight, all-business approach that contrasted with the Europeans' relaxed looseness. Lewis has a simpler theory.

``The Europeans grow up playing alternate-shot golf and foursomes golf in their junior golf programs and Americans don't,'' he said. ``I think it's that simple. A lot of those guys have been playing alternate-shot since they were kids. It's different, over here it's much more of an individual game.

``Obviously, they did a good job of preparing, I'm sure we did everything we could ... but our guys didn't play that well and their guys did.''

Meanwhile, Singh can secure the PGA Tour money record with at least a second-place finish. He is $488,755 away from the record Woods set in 2000 and is guaranteed about $116,000 from the no-cut American Express Championship and the Tour Championship.

Singh will be paired with Weir for Thursday's opening round, a rematch of their Canadian Open playoff won by Singh two weeks ago.

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