Boo Weekley Column: Boo Weekley emerging as a new Tiger Woods buddy at World Golf Match Play

MARANA, Ariz. - It's always interesting to see who's becoming Tiger Woods' friend on the PGA Tour. With Woods letting so few in his inner circle - the ones who do gain entrance often become pseudo celebrities as Tiger friends.

Think about it. Do you know a lot about Mark O'Meara or Charles Howell III because of their golf or because they've been go-to quotes on the world of Tiger?

Enter one Boo Weekley. Woods and Weekley spent a good amount of time yucking it up on the practice range in the final day of preparations for the World Golf Accenture Match Play Championship. Yes, Boo had Tiger laughing. In public. A few times loudly.

At first thought, the wise-cracking regular guy Weekley and the ultra-serious, no-edge-left-unexploited Woods would seem to be an odd pairing. But unlike many of the other up-and-coming breakout players on the PGA Tour, Weekley has never taken any Tiger digs.

In other words, he's no Rory Sabbatini or Ian Poulter.

"Tiger likes to laugh," Weekley said. "He may not like to laugh around you guys (in the media), but he has better material than I do."

Weekley's material infamously includes talk of a wind that could "make your butthole pucker up" on the "Jim Rome Show."

Woods hasn't really shown any comic material publicly since a GQ reporter wrote about an off-color joke he told in the writer's presence very early in his career. (Woods later claimed the joke was supposed to be off the record.)

But Tiger's trading zingers with Boo on the range. In this Tiger world, that means Weekley's public profile will probably rise, too.

Vijay goes lean

One glance at Vijay Singh, and you cannot help but be struck by the difference between his physique now as opposed to the last few seasons. The Singh making his way around The Gallery is noticeably leaner, having dropped plenty of pounds.

In 2007, the 45-year-old Singh never approached a Phil Mickelson paunch, but he was never going to be mistaken for Tiger Woods or any of the other ripped pros out on the PGA Tour either.

Singh feels a new emphasis in his training regiment - he disputes any notion that he fell off in training - is giving him an added stamina edge this season. It didn't seem to pay off when Singh suffered a late collapse at Pebble Beach, kicking away what would have been his 32nd PGA Tour win with three bogeys in the last five holes, but at least Singh's confident talk remains.

His painstaking practice habits also haven't changed. Most of the pros took one or two pitch shots off the greens. Singh hit more than a half dozen balls in the dip below No. 18 alone.

Ernie Els gives Grand Canyon love

Forget hanging out watching the old man play a boring practice round. Ernie Els' kids took a trip to the Grand Canyon on Tuesday, a place where you're not going to find much golf talk.

Els' kids have this week off from school in England, and when the fourth-ranked player in the world decided to make the Match Play a late schedule addition, it quickly turned into a family trip.

If only all weeks were that easy for a golf tycoon/dad.

"You've got a decision to make - either raise your family on tour or have a home life and have them go to one school," Els said. "And we decided to have them go to one school in the UK. ... I try not to be away from home for more than two weeks at a time. We actually incorporate their holidays into my schedule."

Of course, Els is already anticipating future disputes.

"My daughter is not a teenager yet," Els said. "She's still coming with us willingly on tour."

The Gallery: Golfer great but spectator unfriendly

The Gallery Golf Club at Dove Mountain boasts two of the top golf courses in all of Arizona and two of the best-conditioned golf courses on the entire PGA Tour by the looks of things this week. As Adam Scott said, "There's not a blade of grass out of place out there."

But as great as Gallery is too play - and for a stretch there it allowed limited public play - it's not a good course to watch a golf tournament on.

The course goes way out into the desert, and the way it's set up for the Match Play, fans are often limited to walking one side of a hole, making getting a great views at matches tough.

February 20, 2008

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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