Woods keeps the money rolling in


It's a good job for Tiger Woods that he doesn't come to the phone to take calls from Golf Masters managers wondering about his playing schedule.

Already inundated with requests for media interviews and offers of multi-million dollar endorsement deals, Woods would have no time to himself if he was to answer every vexed question from Messrs. Rutherford, Buttimer, Mooney and the rest of our 20,000 managers whose fortunes seem inextricably linked to his.

Tiger keeps his playing schedule a fairly closely guarded secret and what he does over the next three weeks could have a huge influence on the outcome of one of our most exciting seasons.

For Golf Masters managers, last week's NEC Invitational represented the calm before the final storm of activity with six counting tournaments to come in the next three weeks. Thirty-seven players teed it up at Firestone, all of them Golf Masters card holders, and, with Woods winning yet again, there was little change in the overall standings.

Remarkably, the top-twenty teams from week 25 are still there this time, although there was some reshuffling of the pack. As a DJ might put it, there were nine risers, four fallers but no new entries.

Chief among the risers were Tony Sweeney's "Triple Threat" who managed seventh in the weekly standings to leap nine places to seventh overall. Further progress may be difficult as Tony has no transfers left and only two of his line-up are in action this week, Robert Allenby in the Air Canada Championship and Stephen Allan in the BMW International.

Leader Colin Rutherford faces a triple-threat of another kind from a most unlikely source. It has finally dawned on Rory Timlin that £15,000 is a better prize than a polo shirt and, rather than congesting our bottom 10 trailerboard as in previous seasons, he now has three teams in the top 16.

Best placed is "The Bridge Player" which is the only one of our leading lineups to include Gabriel Hjerstedt. A win for him in Canada could see Timlin reach dizzying heights.

Rutherford's "Glenmore Eagles 2" have held top spot since mid-July, but saw their lead trimmed to £76,052 this week by Brian Buttimer's "Tiger's Team". All of the leading selections include Tiger at this stage and Allenby's tied-12th finish at Firestone accounted for the bulk of Buttimer's £40,750 gain on the week.

The big question for Buttimer now is how to use his final transfer. After feverish research into the likely fields for the remaining events he has decided to ditch Tiger and bring in Colin Montgomerie.

"I guess it will be Monty and then I'll just have to cross my fingers, bunker down and pray," says Buttimer who has been a senior cricketer with Leinster and CYM for the best part of 30 years.

There have been no such worries for this week's fourball winner, David O'Flanagan from Mullingar. Transfers were never on the agenda. "I decided that, once I'd picked them, I'd stick with them. Even if they'd died I'd leave them," says the delighted manager of David III.

Given that he's remained faithful to Jeev Milkha Singh who hasn't earned a penny in over two months, O'Flanagan is clearly a man of his word which is good news for Dave Kelly, Louis Fearon and Tony Gibson.

They have been David's regular fourball partners for 13 years at Co Longford and they've been waiting a long time for him to deliver on the promise of a game at Tulfarris followed by dinner.

One of 25 teams to include Woods and Philip Price, David III clinched the honours thanks to top-20 Firestone finishes from Allenby and Notah Begay.