- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 23, 2002

Fatigue is the only factor standing between Tiger Woods and the Kemper Open.
During his pre-tournament news conference at the Memorial yesterday, Woods addressed his possible commitment to next week's Kemper.
"Right now, I'm 50-50 on playing next week," said Woods, who has until 5 p.m. tomorrow to decide whether he'll join the field at TPC at Avenel. The Kemper Open would be Woods' fourth straight week of competition, not unheard of but certainly a stretch with the U.S. Open (June 10-16) looming.
"We'll just have to see how it goes," Woods said. "I'll have some time on Friday afternoon to see how my body feels. Am I going to be able to give enough energy next week and still be ready for the U.S. Open?"
For Kemper officials aware that Woods' debut at the local event would mean a financial windfall, that is quite literally the $1million question.
The tournament has saved a place for Woods and has a set of logistical plans ready should he commit. Now they simply must await the word from golf's 26-year-old Goliath.
"It still looks good for the Kemper," said Bev Norwood, a spokesman for the IMG team that manages Woods. "We won't know for sure until he finishes tomorrow and can evaluate how he feels."
The message from the Woods camp is clear: Tiger wants to play in the Kemper Open, but he won't do so if he feels the extra week of competition will jeopardize his chances in the U.S. Open.
Regardless of whether he plays in the Kemper, Woods will take the following week off to prepare for the Open. But contrary to public opinion, Woods' customary pre-major off week at home in Orlando, Fla., is not a time for lounging around the house and recuperating. Woods usually fills most of the hours during those weeks honing his game with swing instructor Butch Harmon at Isleworth GC, working particularly hard on venue-specific shots and formulating his approach for the given major layout.
Next month's Open will be held on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y., on Long Island. Woods has not yet played the Black Course, adding another variable into his Kemper decision.
"I'm going to go there and play it before the week of the tournament," Woods said yesterday. "Then I'll have something to go home and work on. Exactly when I play it depends on whether or not I play the Kemper."
If neither fatigue nor such scheduling issues seems like a particularly big deal, consider Woods' calendar. He returned from his post-Masters respite two weeks ago at the Byron Nelson Classic. After finishing third in the Nelson in Dallas, Woods jetted to Germany last week for the Deutsche Bank SAP Open.
Bad weather forced a Monday finish in Germany, in which he outlasted Colin Montgomerie in a three-hole playoff. Woods then flew to Ohio on Tuesday for the Memorial, where he will try to become the first player to win the event four consecutive times. Next week he already has a commercial shoot scheduled Monday in Canada, eliminating the logical date for his first look at Bethpage.
If he plays in the Kemper, he then would have to use part of his typically sacred practice week jetting up to Long Island and back for a spin around the Black Course. He likely would get back home to Orlando on Tuesday, June 4, after nearly a full month on the road. Wednesday would likely be lost as a rest day, meaning he wouldn't get down to the business of preparing for the Open until June 6.
Considering that potentially grueling stretch, perhaps Washingtonians should be both flattered and grateful if golf's reigning demigod lands at Avenel next week.


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