Memorial Tournament

Muirfield Village Golf Club

The Loop

The Middle of Nowhere

February 19, 2008

TUCSON, Ariz. -- I don't want to say the Gallery at Dove Mountain is in the middle of nowhere but if you wander very far off the sixth fairway it looks like the location for The Treasure of Sierra Madre. Forget Tiger Woods, where's Humphrey Bogart? It's so inhospitable to spectators about the only thing they can be assured of seeing is a handshake. The commute from Tucson is so long, by the time you get there you feel like you rode in on the back of a burro. The guards at the front gate should say, "Badges? Show us your badges. We need to see your stinking badges."

And was that PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, out in the desert doing the Walter Huston shuffle? Apparently, instead of gold, he's struck Tiger -- as if there was any difference.

This is, after all, a Tiger Woods week. All is right with the world. The rattlesnakes are jangling out a calypso tune. The javelinas are the Haves. The saguaros stand a little straighter and the leaping cactus seem poised to set Olympic distance marks. The TV cables are laid with more care, the satellite dishes aimed a bit truer. The scaffolding looks to be erected in the style of I.M. Pei. The sunscreen is SPF-perfect; the quotes Churchillian; and relief is there for the asking.

Woods will be attempting to win his sixth tournament in a row. He's accompanied this week by his old instructor, Hank Haney, and his new sports drink, Tiger, which can only mean there's work to be done. He did pause to reminisce about his perfect season, the 36 in a row he bagged one year as a boy. "I peaked at 11," Woods deadpanned.

The unpredictability of match play could well make this the toughest in this latest victory streak. After all, they love the smell of match play in the morning, right up until the casualty reports start coming in.

-- Jim Moriarty