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Biggest names head to Wachovia Championship

Tiger Woods prefers a tough test to a free lunch and that's why he's thrilled to be teeing it up against the best in the world at this week's Wachovia Championship.

All of the world's top-10 players are in Charlotte, along with 27 of the top 30, and the attraction is Quail Hollow, which many rate as the best course on the PGA Tour.

"Any time you've got a great course, the field is going to come," Woods said.

"That's why I'm here. I go to tournaments for the golf course. This is one of the neat courses we play all year.

"You have to shape the ball both ways, and on top of that, you've really got to putt here. You've actually got to think about what you are doing because, if you don't, more than likely you're going to be making bogey or worse."

Woods skipped the inaugural event here in 2003, but quickly received word about the quality of the course, and played the following two years, before skipping last year due to his father's death.

Actually, the quality of the course is not the only thing players take into consideration.

The other is scheduling, and this event falls perfectly, the week before the prestigious Players Championship, which has been moved from March to May.

Woods always takes a break after the Masters, and this year has been no exception. This is his first start since he tied for second at Augusta more than three weeks ago, but don't expect him to be rusty.

He rarely tees it up unprepared, and says he has been working on his game the past 10 days or so, after taking two weeks off.

Masters champion Zach Johnson also returns after a break, two weeks in his case.

Unlike Woods, however, Johnson may not be firing on all cylinders this week.

"The last two weeks (off) were much needed and I'm ready to start playing again, because my game is probably not quite where it wants to be," Johnson said.

"Sleep has been fairly non-existent, especially with a 16-week-old baby, but any chaos or commitments have been good ones. There have been a lot of requests, all very worthy things (but) it's just overwhelming."

Defending champion Jim Furyk was not happy with his game at the Masters, and has spent the past few weeks tinkering with his irons.

"At Augusta, I didn't feel comfortable with the way my irons were going through the ground. I was working too hard to draw the ball or keep it on-line, and I felt my swing was getting a little quick," he said.

Meanwhile, the controversy over Phil Mickelson's being allowed

to play last week's Byron Nelson Championship, even though he missed the pro-am, seems to have died down.

At a players meeting on Tuesday, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem explained the reason the tour gave Mickelson a reprieve, after he was stranded interstate by bad weather.


May 3, 2007

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