By DOUG FERGUSON
Tiger Woods was once so nearsighted he said he would be considered legally blind without glasses or contacts. He had Lasik surgery in October 1999 after the Ryder Cup, won the Disney Classic in his first tournament back and has done fairly well since.
He realized this spring it was time to do it again.
“My vision started slipping,’’ Woods said after The Players Championship. “I was getting headaches from squinting all the time.’’
He said he had laser surgery for the second time the Monday after the Masters.
“Mine stayed the way it should for … what is it, eight years now?’’ Woods said. “That’s pretty good.’’
Just as in 1999, Woods won his first tournament after eye surgery when he captured the Wachovia Championship by two shots. But that’s where the similarity ends. His victory at Disney in 1999 was the second of six consecutive PGA Tour victories. Woods tied for 37th last week, his worst finish since missing the cut at the U.S. Open last summer.
BUNKER MENTALITY: Don’t look for furrows in the bunkers at Oakmont for the U.S. Open.
Mike Davis, who sets up the course for the U.S. Open, said the sand will be softer to make bunkers more of a penalty. And while officials considered furrows in the bunkers at Oakmont, they ultimately found it to be unfair.
One reason is the sand itself.
“The original sand in these bunkers was river bottom sand, and it was a rocky substance and you could do that,’’ Davis said. “If you tried to do it with this sand, I don’t think it would work very well. Candidly, we’re not real crazy about the idea of two guys being in the bunker and … one guy having an easy shot, and the other guy having a near impossible shot.’’
Furrows essentially are wide ridges in the sand.
Jack Nicklaus tried putting them in his bunkers at Muirfield Village last year at the Memorial, and just about every player complained.
COUNTING DAYS: Joey Sindelar walked off the 18th green at The Players Championship with a wistful feeling. He is doing that at a lot of tournaments these days, not because of his game, but his birth certificate.
Sindelar, a seven-time winner on the PGA Tour, turns 50 in March.
“This is a very bizarre time for me,’’ he said last week. “I don’t know when I walk off this green or Harbour Town or Wachovia … is that the last time I did that? I don’t know the answer. Very weird.’’
He likely will join the Champions Tour instead of trying to play both as Jay Haas once did and Fred Funk does now. But he figures the competition will be strong, in part because guys his age have stayed competitive until they graduated to the Champions Tour. Hal Sutton, Mark O’Meara, John Cook, Bob Tway and Scott Hoch all turned pro from 1979 to 1981.
“The generation prior to us, what was there to stay on Tour for?’’ Sindelar said. “What was 100th (on the money list) back then? Now 100th is worth staying around for in my world. We’re the first generation that it was worth fighting, where you wouldn’t say, ‘I can stay home and make that much money.’ ’’
The best part of turning 50?
“What thrills me is not living by the word ‘cut’ anymore,’’ Sindelar said. “My entire life has been consumed by that.’’
COCERES REVIVAL: Jose Coceres didn’t even make it through Q-School last year and started the season with only past champion status, having won at Disney and Hilton Head in 2001.
But he sure made the most of his opportunities.
The Argentine lost in a playoff to Fred Funk in Mexico. That got him into the Honda Classic, where he lost in the four-man playoff won by Mark Wilson. That helped him move high enough up the FedEx Cup list to get a spot at The Players Championship, where he finished fifth.
He already has earned nearly $1.2 million and is 32nd in the FedEx Cup. Not bad for a guy who had not finished higher than 106th on the money list over the last five years.
OGILVY PERSPECTIVE: Geoff Ogilvy hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since his U.S. Open victory at Winged Foot last year, although he was a finalist at the Accenture Match Play Championship and tied for third at Doral.
He was asked if he feels more pressure to succeed, or less pressure because he already has a major.
“More and less,’’ Ogilvy said. “Sometimes I think I probably put too much expectations on myself. At other times, I’m like, ‘What do I care? I just won the U.S. Open.’ It’s a bit of both.’’
CARD OF THE WEEK: For those who say par is a good score at The Players Championship, consider Justin Leonard.
He made 33 pars over the first two rounds.
Alas, those were the only two rounds he played, for the par machine also was the only player at Sawgrass who failed to make birdie. Even so, it was a cruel send-off for the ‘98 Players champion.
Leonard took double bogey when it took him four shots to hole out from behind the seventh green. His layup on the par-5 ninth was behind a tree, forcing him to pitch out and take bogey. And in the howling wind at the island-green 17th, he put one ball in the water and three-putted for triple bogey.
He finished his week with 19 consecutive pars, missing a 10-foot birdie on his 36th hole to make the cut.
DIVOTS: Darren Clarke withdrew from the Irish Open because of a hamstring injury that knocked him out of the Wachovia Championship and The Players Championship. He said doctors told him he could aggravate the injury if he tried to play. He hopes to return next week for the BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event on the European Tour. … Charlie Sifford, the first black player to win a PGA Tour event, received an honorary degree last week from Lincoln University in Missouri. … The new video scoreboards that debuted last week at The Players Championship had only one noticeable glitch. It showed Anthony Kim’s picture over Joey Sindelar’s name. … The World Golf Hall of Fame this week opened an exhibit featuring the life and career of Jack Nicklaus. It will be on display for one year.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods has not finished in the top 10 at The Players Championship since winning in 2001.
FINAL WORD: “I’ve only played decent on one Pete Dye golf course and that’s the one I won at in Quad Cities. And it didn’t look anything like this.’’ – David Toms, who has never finished better than 12th at The Players Championship.