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Rumors: McIlroy to Tiger: 'I would love to face him'

McIlroy wants a piece of WoodsIf Tiger Woods is looking for a spark to motivate him, Northern Ireland
sensation Rory McIlroy might have just provided it. In a video shot by
the BBC
on Monday, McIlroy said that
should Tiger play in the Ryder Cup, he is clearly a weak link for Team
USA.

"I would love to face him," McIlroy said. "Unless his game rapidly improves...I think
anyone in the European team would fancy their chances against him."

(If you want to hear the quote, it comes at the backend of the interview.) Chalk this up as just one more example of how far Woods has fallen.
Time was when calling out golf's Great One (see Stephen Ames, 2006) was
about as smart as rubbing Tabasco into a sunburn. Today guys no longer fear him. Hell, they want a piece of him. In match play. At the
Ryder Cup. Tiger, you hearing this? Hold that drive! (I gotta take this call) When the Cleveland Indians peddled 10-cent beers at a game in 1974, it was just a matter of time before a fan jumped on the field and did something wickedly inappropriate. It happened in the second inning, when a woman scurried into the Indians' on-deck circle, lifted her shirt, and tried to kiss the umpire, Nestor Chylak. Similarly, at this week's Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C.—where tournament organizers have agreed to allow fans to tote cell phones and PDAs—it's just a matter of time before a Ludacris ringtone or vuvuzela app stirs up trouble. Thursday's first round, it seems, didn't produce any such cringe-inducing moments, but smoke was everywhere, according to the Greensboro News and Record.

Though officials warned a handful of people to put the phones away, most used the phones freely when they were out of sight of the officials.

One man was told to put his phone away as he tried to snap a photo of [Anthony] Kim.

"I did take a few photos," David Hanein of Greensboro said, adding that he was using his phone for Twitter updates.

Fans were allowed to use phones only at concession stands, but many ignored that rule.

"I don't see why texting would make a difference, whatsoever," said Lukas Lucas from Los Angeles, who had a guest pass from Kim along with Hanein.

Lucas told Hanein not to worry about putting the phone away.

If that's an attitude shared by even a small percentage of fans, the Wyndham Experiment is going to end ugly—10-cent-beer-night ugly. Tour ratings down; Ponte Vedra morale up...The PGA Tour's declining viewership isn't news—no Tiger, no ratings—but a hard look at the 2010 numbers is disconcerting to say the least, as reported by Richard Sandomir at the New York Times.
[During the PGA] 6.5 million viewers watched on CBS — not bad, but a tumble from the 10.1 million who saw Y.E. Yang upset Woods with a comeback victory last year at Hazeltine.
That 35 percent drop for the final round came on the heels of a 53 percent drop in viewership on ESPN for the fourth round of last month's British Open. Only 2.6 million watched the victory by Louis Oosthuizen, who has a limited profile in the United States, compared with 5.5 million for Stewart Cink's playoff victory over Tom Watson the year before on ABC.
The British gets a pass. Even us schelps in the media center had a hard time following that snoozy Sunday. 
At the Wells Fargo Championship, Rory McIlroy's win drew an average of 3.2 million viewers to the final round, 42 percent fewer than Sean O'Hair did in 2009. Justin Rose's triumph at the Memorial was seen by 3.9 million Sunday viewers, 800,000 fewer than the audience for Woods's win a year earlier. Rose's subsequent win at the AT&T National generated 2.6 million final-round viewers, fewer than half of what Woods attracted the year before.
According to Nielsen, final-round viewership this season through Aug. 1 is down 16 percent.
The PGA Tour, however, is steadfastly refusing to admit much concern. You gotta love that about the Tour. Next time I have a personal crisis, I want Tim Finchem and Ty Votaw sitting next to me, whispering something like, "Now, now, everything's going to be just fine."
Votaw insisted that the tour's sponsors were far more concerned with the cumulative audience that builds over a tournament, not the "snapshot" developed from averaging viewership over several hours on a Sunday.
By that measure, he said, the PGA Tour's overall golf audience was down by 3 percent this year.
See? It's all good! The Tour is scheduled to renegotiate its network TV contracts at the end of 2011. We'll see if CBS and NBC are as cheery.

Tiger positively giddy about Jersey visit Tiger Woods announced this week that he will make his first trip to Ridgewood CC in New Jersey to play in the first round of the FedEx Cup playoffs. At 108th in the FedEx standings, he has no other choice, though it appears he's genuinely jazzed about playing the course, according to Brendan Prunty at the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

Two years ago, Woods was so intrigued by Ridgewood's classic A.W. Tillinghast-designed layout, that he asked head professional David Reasoner for aerials and notes on the course. The dream of him playing in the first Barclays held in New Jersey evaporated when he tore up his left knee winning the 2008 U.S. Open.
"I don't care if he was leading the FedEx Cup, he still would've been here," Reasoner said. "Just because of the reaction from two years ago and so many people reaching out to him and saying, ‘Hey, you've got to play this golf course. You've got to come see this, you'll love it.' He loves that stuff."
We'll see. TW needs a top-50 finish to advance to the second round of the playoffs in Boston. If that doesn't happen, his love affair with Ridgewood might well be a short-lived one.

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by Kevin Cunningham