- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 27, 2000

The "Battle of Bighorn" doesn't seem so big now, does it? Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia going one-on-one on national TV sounded mildly interesting when it was announced a cut above summer reruns but that was before Tiger singed Sergio by a combined 44 strokes in the U.S. and British Opens. Instead of the "Battle of Bighorn" in Palm Desert, Calif. (Aug. 28, 8 p.m.), maybe ABC should call it "Another Sheep to the Slaughter."
Or how about this idea: Drop Garcia from the competition for humanitarian reasons and replace him with Karrie Webb, the Tiger of the women's tour. Tiger Woods vs. Karrie Webb with Karrie playing from the women's tees, of course. What golf fan wouldn't watch that?
Seriously, folks, there isn't a male golfer out there who's even the remotest threat to Tiger. Ernie Els, the world No. 2, went head-to-head with him in the third round at Memorial and got beat 65-72. David Duval, the world No. 3, tried his luck in the final round of the British and got beat 69-75. Davis Love, the world No. 6, faced him in the semis of the World Match-Play and got beat 5 and 4. If you're going to take golf to prime time, you need rivalries, you need uncertainty. The only uncertainty when Woods plays is whether he will humiliate his opponent or simply embarrass him.
Sure, Sergio, on his best day, might nip Tiger 1-up, but he has a better chance of losing 6 and 5, and who wants to sit through that? It might be time for Woods to start thinking about staging handicap matches anything to keep it close.
"You mean like playing with a baseball bat and a shovel, like that guy in 'Tin Cup'?" my boss asks.
"Something like that," I reply. "Maybe he could limit himself to only five clubs or use a limited-flight ball."
Here's the way I look at it: Jesse Owens raced against horses. George Foreman fought five men in one day. Why shouldn't Tiger match mashies with a woman?
Besides, Karrie Webb isn't just any old woman. In fact, she's a very young woman 25, just a year older than Woods. Their career accomplishments, moreover, are eerily similar. Both have won 21 tournaments. Both have won three of the last four majors on their tours. Both have a last name that begins with the letter "W." Heck, their birthdays are even close together; Karrie was born Dec. 21, Tiger Dec. 30.
Webb would probably be much more famous than she is if Woods weren't constantly hogging the headlines. When she started the season with three straight victories, it got less notice than it should have because he was reeling off five straight victories. When she won the Nabisco Championship, a major, in late March, it was overshadowed by his head-to-head duel with Hal Sutton in the Players Championship. When she captured the U.S. Women's Open this past weekend, it ran a distant second to him winning the British Open to complete a career Grand Slam.
It's amazing that she doesn't hate Tiger (or at least the person who does the scheduling for the LPGA). But in fact, she says, "I admire him so much… . He makes so, so much money that he doesn't have to work that hard. But he loves the game so much that he puts all that hard work into it, and he's reaping the rewards right now."
But comparing Him to Her is "pretty hard," she said Sunday. "He plays on the PGA Tour, I play on the LPGA Tour. It's … like comparing him to Jack Nicklaus. They never played in the same era, so it's really hard to compare them."
The only time they've ever been in close proximity was in the '96 JCPenney Classic, when Webb and partner Brad Faxon played in the same group with Woods and Kelli Kuehne. Tiger's team wound up in second place, Karrie's in 15th, so Tiger has a leg up on her.
(On the other hand, Karrie won the U.S. Women's Open in her fifth try. Tiger needed six chances to win the men's Open two as an amateur.)
See? Comparing them might be "pretty hard," but it's an awful temptation. Especially since, well, who else would you measure them against? Woods just finished off a career Slam at 24. Webb just qualified for the LPGA Hall of Fame at 25. Nobody has ever done these things and I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for someone else to do them.
So why not Tiger Woods vs. Karrie Webb, at Bighorn, on prime-time TV? Think Tiger wouldn't be a little uptight over the prospect of losing to a woman? I, for one, wouldn't be surprised if the match went down to the final hole for this reason: Unlike many golfers particularly the ones Woods has been terrorizing, it might be added "I don't go to a sports psychologist," Webb says.

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