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Golf Notes December 30

Tiger's game turns as cold as the weather

They played in the snow like kids instead of the two youngest superstars in pro golf.

When a rare rain, sleet and hail storm hit today's final round of the Williams World Challenge -- the first rainfall in Scottsdale in 102 days -- Tiger Woods and his pal Sergio Garcia staged a friendly snowball fight on the No. 12 hole.

"We just wanted to lighten things up a little," said Woods, who had just finished making a double bogey on No. 11, his third double of the round, on a day when his game turned as cold as the weather.

Both Woods, who turned 24 on Dec. 30 and Garcia, who will be 20 on Jan. 9, played well after play resumed following a 65-minute delay. Woods, who shot 41 on the front nine, birdied two of the next three holes and finished with a 76.

Garcia got to 4-under for the tournament and into third place with birdies at 13 and 14, but dropped to fifth after taking a double-bogey six at the finishing hole, where his second shot found the water.

Woods, who won eight PGA Tour events last year and had earnings of $7.6 million worldwide, opened the tournament with a 5-under 65 and was 8-under after the front nine of Saturday's third round. It went downhill from there, with a 39 over the final nine on Saturday.

"It was just ugly," Woods said of his play this week. "I haven't been hitting the ball that good all week and was just kind of getting away with it. It finally caught up with me.

"I couldn't hit the ball solid. I couldn't keep it straight enough. The more I tried to release it, the more I seemed to hit it to the right. It was very odd."

Still, Woods didn't seem concerned about his game as he prepares for the 2000 PGA Tour season that starts Thursday at the Mercedes Championships in Hawaii. Instead, he wanted to talk about the successful debut of the Williams World Challenge, an offseason event he hosted and helped put together as a benefit for the Tiger Woods Foundation and Payne Stewart Memorial.

"It was a great start for the foundation and this event." he said. "From my standpoint, it was very busy. I never thought it would be this much work. Next week, it's back down to business."