- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 25, 2002

Tiger Woods has turned down the Kemper Open once again.
Golf's 26-year-old titan has never played in the event. And yesterday, his camp informed tournament general chairman Pete Cleaves that he would not be coming to TPC at Avenel next week either.
"Despite the optimistic speculation that there was a chance he might compete, he never did officially enter or commit to the field," Cleaves said.
Woods said Wednesday that there was a "50-50" chance he would play in the Kemper, and sources close to Woods said he genuinely wanted to play in the Washington area. But in the end, good sense won out over good intentions as Woods decided not to play in four straight events so close to the U.S. Open.
If his pedestrian results at this week's Memorial Tournament are any indication, Woods could be a bit fatigued from his recent schedule, which has taken him from Dallas (Byron Nelson Classic) to Germany (Deutsche Bank SAP Open) to Dublin, Ohio (Memorial). After finishing third at the Nelson, Woods edged Colin Montgomerie in a playoff to win in Germany but watched his performance fall off precipitously in Ohio.
Barely keeping alive his streak of consecutive made cuts at 87 (third all-time), Woods followed up an opening-round 74 with a 70 yesterday, limping into the weekend 10 strokes behind leader Justin Leonard. Struggling mightily with his short stick, Woods has putted 63 times over his opening 36 at the Memorial, a very unimpressive number by his lofty standards.
He also putted relatively poorly last week in Germany, and fatigued or not, some work on the practice green with instructor Butch Harmon likely is in the works.
Without the Kemper on his schedule, Woods now has more time to focus on preparing for the U.S. Open from June 13-16 at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y. He has not yet played the Black Course at Bethpage. But instead of sandwiching in a preview round there after the Kemper during his customary pre-major off-week, Woods now has two open weeks to play the Black Course and hone his game and strategy for the Open.
On a positive note, Woods' near miss at this year's Kemper, combined with his pre-tournament withdrawal (back spasms) in 1998, should help the event secure his attendance in the near future. Quite simply, the game's new king owes one to the Kemper.


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