Woods still not keen to pack irons on road

NEW YORK (AP) — Tiger Woods was in south Florida this week to promote new products from Nike, with most of the attention on the driver. But that led to questions about what additional clubs Woods takes to a tournament, particularly irons.

He brings a backup putter, wedges, fairway woods and a driver - but no irons.

"I don't really foresee myself breaking any irons," Woods said.

But that's what happened at the Masters last year when he tried to hit his approach on No. 11 from behind a pine tree. The shaft snapped in half when it struck a tree.

It was the second time in two years Woods had to play a stretch of holes without one of his irons. His caddie, Steve Williams, dropped his 9-iron into a pond on the seventh hole of the Ryder Cup in Ireland.

Woods said he brings different wedges depending on the grass and conditions, and he carries a few 2-irons with different lofts. He also carries a backup putter, made by Nike. But his first-string putter is a Scotty Cameron, the only club in his bag that doesn't have a swoosh.

Don't expect that change. Woods has won 12 majors with that putter.

HOWELL'S EQUIPMENT: Charles Howell III signed an endorsement deal with Callaway when he turned pro in 2000, but don't look for that brand when he shows up at Kapalua next month for the Mercedes-Benz Championship.

Callaway officials said Howell has asked out of his contract, and he was granted his release.

"Sometimes you wonder what they're thinking," said Nick Raffaele, vice president for sports marketing at Callaway. "But we don't want any player who's not comfortable. I hope he finds what he's looking for."

That part remains unclear. Howell's agent, Thomas Parker, declined comment until there was more news to report.

WOMEN'S WORLD CUP: Juli Inkster and Pat Hurst will get another crack at the Women's World Cup.

The longtime friends finished second to Paraguay by seven shots in January. They got another chance when Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr both declined to play this year, saying they wanted a long break before the start of the official season.

Creamer also is skipping the Lexus Cup, matches between Asia and players from the rest of the world. That will give her a three-month break from competition. Asked the last time she had a break that long, Creamer smiled and said, "When I was 12," and it wasn't clear if she was joking.

Kerr, the U.S. Women's Open champion, didn't sound like she would ever play. This is the second year in a row she turned down the offer, and while she is playing the Lexus Cup, she said the Women's World Cup "just comes at a bad time in the schedule." Kerr plans to spend the first two months getting in shape for the season.

DIVOTS: Scott Verplank had to withdraw from this week's Merrill Lynch Shootout because of minor surgery on his thumb, which has been bothering him all year. He also had to skip the Target World Challenge, but will recover in plenty of time for the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship in Kapalua to start the 2008 season. ... Despite enduring all of Q-school, Frank Lickliter declined interview requests every day until it was over. "Hogan didn't talk to the press," he reasoned. Then again, Ben Hogan was never at Q-school. ... The Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf will return to a team event next year for the first time since 2002. It will be a better-ball format as it was from 1978 to 2001, only now the prize money will count as official and both players will be credited with an official victory.

STAT: Nine players earned U.S. PGA Tour cards after making it through all three stages of Q-school.

FINAL WORD: "She's never going to beat me, though." - Tiger Woods, on his 6-month-old daughter showing some early interest in golf.

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