Golf’s off-season looks a little silly

Times Staff Writer

Sometime this afternoon, when the last putt falls in the last hole in the last round of the last PGA Tour event of the year, the numbers will fall into place at about the same time -- $1.35 million to the winner of the $5.75-million Target World Challenge and the end of a golf season that lasted exactly 347 days.

Did anybody say off-season? Blink and you’ll miss it. It will be only 17 days until the 2007 season begins at the Mercedes Championship at Kapalua, which is probably just long enough to sort out the final payday of 2006.

Geoff Ogilvy is the leader at Sherwood Country Club, where he finished with a birdie at the 18th Saturday and a five-under-par 67 worth a one-shot advantage over Tiger Woods, who birdied the first two holes but had only one birdie over the last 10, and Chris DiMarco, who birdied the last three holes.

Woods shot a two-under 70 and was one under on the five par-five holes. After three rounds, he has played 15 par-five holes in a combined five under.


“I’m right there within a shot, but a bunch of pars are not going to get it done,” he said.

Ogilvy, at 11-under 205, said he never loses track of Woods.

“It’s his golf tournament, so you know he’s here,” Ogilvy said. “How he’s played the last five, six months, if you beat him, you’ll probably win. Whatever he’s doing, if you’re going better than him, you’re doing all right.”

After his 68, DiMarco is keeping track of how much longer he’s going to be playing golf this year. It’s a short list, with only one day on it. By Monday, he’s going to be at Snowmass in Colorado for a ski vacation. He said he’s shipping his clubs back to Florida instead of taking them along with him.


“I won’t be needing them there,” said DiMarco, whose golf commitments have taken him to China, Hong Kong and South Africa in recent weeks.

Woods missed the fairway and the green at the par-five 16th and wound up with a bogey that dropped him out of the lead, which is where Ogilvy put himself when he birdied the 18th after knocking a nine-iron approach to within a foot.

Blustery wind and sporadic rain showers hit Sherwood, making for a trying day, especially for Jose Maria Olazabal, who had a 78, and John Daly, who had a 77. But it didn’t bother Ogilvy, who grew up in Melbourne, and said he’s no stranger to the wet stuff.

“It rains in Australia,” he said.


Ogilvy’s off-season is short, because he’s playing at Kapalua, where the Mercedes Championship begins Jan. 4. He is also playing the Sony Open at Honolulu the following week, but he said it’s not the type of schedule to complain about.

“Two weeks [off] isn’t a long time, but two weeks in Hawaii at the start of the year, that’s not exactly a hardship.”

Woods is also planning a ski vacation, but hasn’t committed to the Mercedes Championships. If he doesn’t play Kapalua, his PGA Tour winning streak of six straight would remain intact, until he makes his 2007 debut, probably at Torrey Pines.

DiMarco birdied five of the last 10 holes, shrugged off the rain and ended his day on a roll. He spun a sand wedge back to within four feet at the 16th and made a birdie, ran in a 35-foot putt to birdie the 17th and then hit a seven-iron to within eight feet and finished with another birdie at the 18th.


Ogilvy and DiMarco are in the last group this morning, just ahead of Woods and Paul Casey, whose two-under 70 put him four shots behind Ogilvy.

Meanwhile, the race for last tightened considerably. Adam Scott’s 69, 11 shots better than his second round, still left him in last place, but only two shots behind Luke Donald. Scott, who had a quadruple bogey and a triple bogey the first two times he played the eighth hole, made par there Saturday.