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Tiger trending up, The Presidents Cup, more

Tiger Woods finished third at last week's Australian Open.

1. Just for the record, second no longer stinks. Neither does third. For the moment, at least. Yes, we're talking Tiger Woods. And who wasn't last week? He packed them in at the Australian Open and put on a show. His iron shots were spot-on. The stinger was back. He was focused and striding like the old Tiger. He made a final-round run and . . .finished third. About the only thing he couldn't conjure up from days of old? He couldn't turn that third-round 75 into a 69, which incidentally would have given him a win. The most telling moment was afterward when he talked about his closing 67 and said, "It could have been a really low round today. . . Could have been really good."

2. Another thing still missing? The driver. He didn't really need it last week and when he did pull it out, it got him into trouble. Especially Saturday and, well, he'll need it this week at Royal Melbourne. Which brings Q-18 to. . . .

3. The Presidents Cup. Can the International team repeat its 1998 magic at Royal Melbourne and pick up Cup win No. 2? They're certainly primed for the possibility with nearly half of them from Australia and so comfy on the course. Can you say know it like the back of their hands? Jason Day, Geoff Ogilvy and Adam Scott tied for fourth last week along with American Nick Watney, while Aaron Baddeley finished T9.

4. They call the course Australia's Augusta National? Yep. No pines, no azaleas, no Magnolia Lane, no major. But Royal Melbourne was designed by Alister MacKenzie, too. International captain Greg Norman's favorite course and, yes, he was on the team back in 1998. The Shark, by the way, made his first cut of the year last week and tied for 53rd.

5. Want to see a Tiger-Scott matchup sometime this week? Who doesn't? Norman figures they will. "If it happens, it happens," Norman said. "It is not going to be premeditated. I talked to Adam about it. I asked him if it worked out that way, did he have a problem with it. He said, 'Not at all. I'll play him and win a point for you.' It can fall out that way. He might end up playing with him every day. Who knows? I'd expect them to meet some time from Thursday onwards."

6. He made the Hall of Fame on the first ballot and now he's going for 50. Not years old -- a mere nine years away -- but 50 wins. A U.S. Open would be nice, too. Maybe even a British Open. Phil Mickelson's win at this year's Shell Houston Open gave him 39 TOUR wins. "Being called a hall of fame golfer, it does make me sound a little bit old," Mickelson admitted, "...But I don't feel old. I feel like I've got a lot of great golf ahead of me."

7. The World Golf Hall of Fame announcement was as much about who didn't make it as who did. Yes, Ken Venturi. The former U.S. Open champion might not make the cut if you just look at his record but when wrist problems cut his career short, he jumped into the broadcast booth and spent 30 years there. Not bad for a man who had to overcome a stuttering problem.

8. Leader in the Twitter clubhouse as Presidents Cup week kicks off Down Under? That would be @geoffogilvy. He tweeted his new look -- Monday morning moustache -- and followed with thoughts on assistant captain Frank Nobilio -- Shoe shine, ironing and sandwich boy and Nobilo shining his tennis shoe. Ogilvy kept them coming, including a photo of the team bus getting stuck You think he's having a blast? If that's not enough, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, Ogilvy will play congenial host for a team barbeque at his house off one of the course's fairways.

9. Just so you know...Mickelson and Jim Furyk were the only U.S. players on the team when the Internationals ran away with the 1998 Presidents Cup.

10. Mickey Wright finally opened up the boxes, cleaned out the closets and blew the dust off some fascinating artifacts from her incredible career and loaned them to the USGA Museum. Wright, perhaps the greatest player in LPGA history, will become the first woman -- and only the fourth golfer period -- to have a gallery in the museum when the collection opens in June. The other galleries belong to Arnold Palmer, Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan. Among the 200 pieces of her career? Her famous Bulls-Eye putter and some rare footage of her swing. Why did she have them all tucked away? "I'm not a real sentimental type," she said.

11. This week's least-direct-route-between-two-points goes to Furyk. After spending two weeks playing in Shanghai, Furyk flew home to Floriday, spent four nights at home, then it was on the Australia. He made it. His clubs didn't -- until Monday.

12. Joe LaCava has seen a lot of Tiger over the years, but as the guy toting Fred Couples' bag. Now he's got a new view and, after two weeks on Tiger's bag, a pretty powerful observation after Sunday's final round: "The stinger I've seen from afar, but never as his caddie. I said to myself today, 'I thought Fred hit the ball solid, but this guy put Fred to shame.' And that's not a knock on Fred."

13. An International team bonding moment from @GregJrNorman:Ran into TWoods in the gym this morning. Discussed #MW3 and he wants me to teach him to #kiteboard. For those on the far side of the generation gap, MW3 is the Modern Warfare 3 and Greg should be a pretty decent instructor since he's a professional kiteboarder.

14. One thing about Arnold Palmer: He's always in good company. Arnie made his 20th ace last week during a round with three buddies at Bay Hill's Charger Course. They added it up afterward and found the foursome had combined for 50 aces. A few more pieces of mental lint? Arnie aced the 163-yard seventh hole with a brand new first-round-in-the-bag 5-iron and he shot 79 -- three shots low than his age.

15. Thou shalt not ... drive golf balls onto church property? That's pretty much what Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Fairfax Country Va., seemed to be saying when the church petitioned a court to have a special grand jury to look into neighboring TopGolf's culpability for the 2,637 golf balls that flew over the netting in one year. According to the Washington Post, one ball smashed the rear window of the pastor's car on a Sunday, another broke a church window and yet another beaned the church's youth director and knocked him down as he was working with some children. The grand jury said there is reason to pursue a misdemeanor charge, which could lead to a trial and a fine for TopGolf, an entertainment complex with a two-tiered driving range. A company executive told the Post TopGolf had done all it could, including raising netting and hiring a ball flight expert. The complex has the balls micro-chipped and said 99.9927 percent of balls stay in the property line.

16. Keep an eye on Amy Anderson. The North Dakota State junior has 13 career college wins and could break Juli Simpson Inkster's unofficial record of 17 wins (San Jose State, 1978-82). She's currently just one win behind Purdue's Maris Hernandez. To put it in perspective, Nancy Lopez won 11 times when she played at Tulsa but was often going heads-up with Furman's Beth Daniel (5 wins). Arizona's Lorena Ochoa had 12 wins.

17. Another week, another John Daly meltdown. After hitting the wrong ball out of the bunker at the 10th hole at the Australian Masters, Daly hit seven balls into the water. He was 7-over at the time, ran out of golf balls and withdrew. Enough was finally enough. Australian PGA officials subsequently withdrew Daly's invitation to their event. Not much left to say.

18. And finally ... A bit early to be asking when/if Tiger will be No. 1 again, isn't it? Yes, the third place was a step, but it was just that. Not a leap.

Photo by Cannon/Getty Images


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