- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 4, 2009

When it comes to his own tournaments, Tiger Woods is like that guy at the party who eats all the cashews on the table - and leaves the rest of us to scavenge through the peanuts, almonds and pecans. “I’ve always enjoyed being a selfish host,” he says without a glimmer of guilt, “and that’s winning the event. I’ve done that out there in L.A. at the Chevron World Challenge a few times, and hopefully I can do it this week.”

Well, we’re halfway to “hopefully” in the AT&T; National, and Woods is at it again. His cruise-control 66 Friday left him in the lead at 10 under, a shot better than Rod Pampling and well-positioned to walk off with the top prize of $1 million-plus. Tiger is always a good bet to win anywhere, of course, but it’s pretty comical what a trophy hog he is at his own events. The man’s competitiveness just doesn’t have an “off” switch.

Woods currently hosts two tournaments - the AT&T; and the Chevron, a non-Tour event held during golf’s Silly Season in December. He also has close ties to the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston (all three, to varying degrees, benefiting his charitable foundation).

Anyway, here’s the Tiger Tote Board for the 14 times he has played in these tournaments:

Wins: five.

Seconds: four.

Total earnings: $8,790,266.67 (though winnings at the Chevron are considered unofficial)

To put this last figure in perspective, if you had won $8,790,266.67 on the PGA Tour, you’d be 108th on the career money list. And yet Woods has done it in just the handful of events he’s affiliated with. The glutton.

Part of the reason - other than that he’s an Alien Being sent to our planet to eat all the cashews - is that he began hosting these tournaments when he was still in his prime. Jack Nicklaus, on the other hand, was 36 when the Memorial was born. That’s why he’s “only” a two-time champ of his event.

Tiger won’t be 36 for another three years, so he still has plenty of time to scarf up more titles in the AT&T;, Chevron and Deutsche Bank. It’s amazing, really, that he can persuade any of his friends to come, behaving the way he does. I mean, does he give out the world’s greatest goodie bags or something?

Fortunately for the rest of the field, the AT&T; is moving to Aronimink in the Philadelphia area the next two years while Congressional gears up for the 2011 U.S. Open. I say “fortunately” because Woods seems to have solved the mysteries of Old Blue - just as he has deconstructed virtually every other course he has frequented.

In his last five rounds at Congressional (66-69-70-64-66) he’s 15 under. You have to figure, with the tournament returning to Bethesda for another three-year run from 2012 to 2014, that he’ll win it at least once. (If he wins it more than once, the Tour Policy Board might want to pass legislation banning him from hosting any more events.)

It’s a little scary, watching Tiger whack it around the last two days, to think his best golf this year is probably ahead of him. After all, he’s been playing at a pretty high level - two victories and eight top 10s in eight tournaments, not counting the Match Play Championship.

He has now finished in the top 10 in his last 18 stroke-play events, a phenomenal streak. In recent years, only Vijay Singh (10 straight top 10s in 2003-04) and Greg Norman (11 straight in 1993-94) have managed to even break double figures. Since 1970, which is as far back as I’m able to research, the best streak besides Woods’ is Nicklaus’ 14 top 10s in a row in ‘77.

“I don’t think you can go through the history books and find anyone as consistent as Tiger,” said Pampling, who will keep Woods company in the third round. “Even Jack, I don’t think, was as consistent as Tiger.”

And don’t forget, that’s 18 AND COUNTING for Tiger. There’s no telling how far he can push this. As he said Friday, it has only been in the last few weeks that he and swing coach Hank Haney have gotten back to the maniacal workouts they’re used to. Before that, his surgically repaired left knee just wasn’t up to it.

“The rigors of practicing that long day after day… I just couldn’t recover [quickly enough],” he said.

But now he’s back to hitting practice ball after practice ball until he gets it right, which is bad news for everybody else on the Tour. “It’s just amazing,” Pampling said. “He can be playing great, and then you really don’t have a lot of chance of beating him, and then he’s just playing so-so and he’s still right there with a chance to win coming down the last nine holes.”

Especially if it’s one of his own tournaments. As we’ve seen, Tiger Woods, the self-proclaimed “selfish host,” gobbles those up almost as greedily as he does majors.

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