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Mercedes Notebook

January 9, 1999

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) _ Ask Tiger Woods a loaded question, expect to get a loaded answer.

After Woods opened with a 4-under 69 in the Mercedes Championships, he was asked what he would like to accomplish in 1999.

``Win every tournament,″ he said before cracking a wide smile.

Maybe he should have said, ``Win ANY tournament.″ Woods won only two times last year, the BellSouth Classic in Duluth, Ga., and the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand by coming from eight strokes down on Sunday to beat Ernie Els in a playoff.

Still, Woods continues to believe that he’s much better off than he was in 1997 when he won four times, including the Masters.

``I learned how to play,″ he said. ``This year is not going to be as mechanical a year. I didn’t like the way I played in ’97, even though I won a lot.″

Woods has been preaching consistency over the past year and notes that he had 13 finishes in the top 10.

``Realistically, I’d like to give myself a lot of chances, and hopefully the putts will fall at the right time,″ he said.

His new season didn’t get off to the best start _ he three-putted from 20 feet on the first hole and missed an 8-foot eagle putt on the final hole. As the sun set over Maui, he was on the putting green with coach Butch Harmon at his side.


EURO FOR EUROPE: The euro is the new currency of the PGA European Tour.

Ken Schofield, executive director of the European tour, said Friday that prize money would be quoted in the new European currency instead of British pounds when the tour starts next week with the South African PGA Championship.

The euro, launched Jan. 1 as the new currency of 11 European countries, will operate for the next three years as a banking and accounting device. Notes and coins _ replacing liras, guilders, pesetas, etc. _ will begin appearing in 2002.

``This is an historic day on the eve of our 28th season,″ Schofield said. ``We believe the decision to adopt the euro compliments the fact that we are by title, the European Tour, and as a pan-European organization we are aware of our responsibility to embrace the new political era.″

In currency trading Friday, one euro was worth about 70.6 British pence and $1.16.

Although the PGA European Tour is based in Britain, Britain is one of four European Union countries not participating in the first-wave conversion to the new currency.


FITNESS CRAZE: Billy Andrade never will be compared to Craig Stadler when it comes to physique, but that didn’t stop him from taking on a regimented workout schedule during the offseason.

``I’ve never been out of shape,″ he said. ``I just felt like once the season was over, I wanted to get fired up for this year, so I decided to just get in better shape. I did it for a better life than better golf.″

He got both in the first round of the Mercedes Championships after his 6-under 67 left him one stroke out of the lead.

``A golf course like this, it helps you,″ Andrade said of the hilly Plantation course at Kapalua Resort. ``I just think over the course of a year or a career, it can’t do anything but help.″

Andrade, whose victory in the 1998 Canadian Open was his first since 1991, certainly has good examples of what kind of rewards can be reaped from working out. David Duval lost about 40 pounds a couple of years ago and has seven victories since.

``It’s only going to help down the road,″ he said.


PATE ON THE PEAK: Steve Pate believes the increased competition on the PGA Tour, particularly with more players doing so well so young, will lead to shorter peak times for the top players.

Pate, 37, won for the first time last year since the 1992 Buick Invitational at San Diego. When he joined the PGA Tour in 1985, he always figured the peak years were between 30 and 40.

``I don’t think you see guys having 10-year peaks any more,″ Pate said. ``Part of it is because we’re getting better athletes playing. Guys come out of college prepared to play, tournament tough by the time they get out here. I don’t think they’re lasting as long.″

David Duval, for one, isn’t about to buy into that theory.

Duval was an All-America at Georgia Tech, failed to make the tour on his first try but has never finished worse than 11th on the money list since his rookie season. His seven victories over the past 14 months are more than anyone on the tour.

``Everybody says your real late 20s up to 35 or 36 is when everybody hits their prime,″ Duval said. ``I sure hope so. That would be a lot of fun.″

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