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February 21, 2011

Truth & Rumors: Tiger could change sides in Tavistock Cup

The Tavistock Cup pits Tour pros from Orlando’s Isleworth gated community against the nearby Lake Nona gated community; a better name might be the Let Them Eat Cake Open. Lake Nona has boasted stars like Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Sergio Garcia since the event’s 2004 inception, while Isleworth has had Stewart Appleby, Charles Howell III and Tiger Woods. However, Woods, who is an Isleworth resident until he moves into his James Bond villain hideout on Jupiter Island, might be changing sides this year, according to The Orlando Sentinel

Woods is a co-investor — along with Tavistock Group and Ernie Els — in the new luxury community rising in the Bahamas, making him eligible to be plucked from red-clad Isleworth in the Cup's version of an expansion draft. Albany and England's Queenwood Golf Club join the competition this year, giving even more of an international scope to the all-Orlando showdown between Lake Nona and Isleworth touring pros.The two-day event begins March 14 at Isleworth.

Ian Poulter, a homeowner at both Lake Nona and Albany, disclosed in a Twitter post last week he is changing sides and noted Woods would be an Albany teammate.

McDowell aces poker game, world rankings

Phil Mickelson has had a chipper start to his 2011 season (two top 10s in four starts, including second at the Farmers Insurance Open), but it wasn’t enough to hold off Graeme McDowell in the Official World Golf Rankings. McDowell overtook Mickelson for the No. 4 spot in the latest rankings. Here’s how the rankings look now:

1. Lee Westwood

2. Martin Kaymer

3. Tiger Woods

4. Graeme McDowell

5. Phil Mickelson

6. Paul Casey

7. Rory McIlroy

8. Steve Stricker

9. Luke Donald

10. Jim Furyk

For his part, McDowell wasn’t too interested in the weekly ups and downs of the rankings; he was more concerned about winning his poker game with Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and caddie Kenny Comboy, if McDowell's Twitter feed was any indication:

Poker update- I was chip leader for a long time but finished 2nd. My caddy Kenny Comboy took the loot. Henrik and Poults battled out for 3rd

McDowell also posted video of the game here. Sadly, no commentary from Gabe Kaplan. 

Human target practice helps Compton shoot 64

We had a lot of great story lines at the Northern Trust Open last week: 1. Aaron Baddeley’s return from the wilderness to win; 2. Fred Couples making another thrilling run on Tour at age 51; and 3. Vijay Singh getting his putting groove back. Still, Erik Compton’s 64 on Sunday might have had the best ending of all.

Compton, who’s had two heart transplants, made the field through a Monday qualifier and finished T25 after shooting a tournament low 64 on Sunday. SI Golf Plus contributor Stephanie Wei of WeiUnderPar caught up to Compton on the driving range Saturday as Compton was doing an unusual drill:

I noticed his caddie was standing in the line of fire … and catching the shots hit near him with a towel. I asked, "Did he give you the wrong yardage today or something?"

“No, I’m trying to figure out my yardages,” explained Compton. “I haven’t played in a while, so I don’t know my distances. I keep feeling like I’m going to fly the green.”

After about 20 balls, Compton switched clubs and hollered, “130!” His caddie walked back ten yards.

Compton also said he hasn’t been working with a swing coach in the last year, saying he’s just been “trying to get back to swing.”

“I’m trying to keep my arms closer to my body (through impact),” Compton said. “I think I’ve been pulling across (in my downswing) and the ball has been going left."

Riviera’s seventh hole was end of the road for Fred Couples

After his final round 73 at the Northern Trust Open, Fred Couples had no difficulty pinpointing where it all went wrong: his drive on the seventh hole, which landed way right on a bank covered in primeval-looking rough. Couples, who suffers from severe back pain, said he never hit another good shot after ripping his second shot on 7 out of the rough. He made a double-bogey 6 on the hole.

Q. What went wrong?

FRED COUPLES: You know, I hit a poor shot on 6 and then drove it in that stuff on 7. We were lucky to find it. Then when I hit it out of there, I just didn't feel the same after that. I didn't really hurt myself, but I never hit a shot, and I just got it around. I mean, I couldn't hit an iron. I hit a few good drives, but I was like afraid to hit the ground, hitting it that hard out of that stuff. But again, I did get off to a good start, and that was where it ended.

Q. Were you worried about that when you saw your ball and knew it was in there?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I knew it wouldn't feel very good, but nothing bad happened, I just didn't feel at all. I started snap-hooking them and didn't hit it very far. I hit a drive on 18 and it didn't go anywhere, then I snap-hooked it on 9. I started getting outdriven by 20, 30 yards, and I did hit a couple good ones, but it just was rough. It's nothing bad, I'm not having any excuse. It's just after that point I never hit a shot.

Tweet of the Day: From golf writer Geoff Shackelford on Kevin Na’s slower-than-a-Denny’s-waitress play at Riviera last week:

Screen_shot_2011-01-15_at_9.48.02_AM_bigger @geoffshac: New Rule: If Your Caddy Is Plum-bobbing Your Putts, You're On The Wrong Tour: http://bit.ly/ijM4eu.

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