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6C THE PALM BEACH POST THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 1998 it c A Golf iWbods shortens up swing for precision Swedes poised to impress at Dinah Shore The Players Championship WHEN: Today through Sunday. WHERE: TPC at Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach. DEFENDING CHAMPION: Steve Elkington (he withdrew). PURSE: 4 million ($720,000 to winner). TV: Today 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 3- p.m., ESPN; Friday 10a.rn.-l p.m., 3-6 p.m., ESPN; Saturday 2-6 p.m., WPTV-5, WTVJ-6; Sunday 3-6:30 p.m., WTVJ-6, WPTV-5, WTVJ-6. TICKETS: Sold out. TOURNAMENT RECORD: 264, Greg Norman, 1994. Handicapping the players The Associated Press i RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. When most golfers' were following the sun, Helen Alfredsson's training included running in the snow, bundled up to ward off, the cold. ; Call it the Swedish golfers' fnlf workout, and there must be UOli something to it. imfalwilc Alfredsson is second on the 1. Ernie Els 5-1 2. Fred Couples 6-1 3. Tiger Woods 6-1 4. Jim Furyk 8-1 5. C. Montgomerie 9-1 6. Greg Norman 10-1 7. M. Calcavecchia 12-1 8. Tommy Tolles 15-1 9. Bernhard Langer 18-1 10. Tom Watson 20-1 Double-digit win over Tiger a confidence boost. Has shot 64 or lower here three times. Hasn't won on PGA Tour in nine months. Has finished 12th or better in past four events. Primed for first PGA Tour victory. Rested, hungry after taking two weeks off. Hottest player on Tour in Florida. Almost won here in 1996. Buoyed by fourth-place finish last week. Leads with nine top-10 finishes here. Craig Dolch By Craig DoWi fit."! 8.-.- lvtSki Ittrftr ; PONTE YEDRA BEACH Com-iliil oft his worst finish of the year OK, he still finished 13th at Bay Hill IVor Woods has made a minor adjustment with his swing entering today's sJ.u t of The Players Championship. I "When I start swinging bad, I usually get a little long, so I've shortened up my golf swing again," Woods said. "I made it more like it was at Augusta or at the beginning of the year, when I had my swing nice and short." 1 TPC notebook mmmmmmammmmmmmmmmmm Woods was tied for the lead entering Sunday's 36-hole finish at Bay Hill, but he struggled to rounds of 73 and 77, and finished 10 shots behind Ernie Els. Wood spent the last two days working with teacher Butch Harmon in Orlando before playing his first practice round here Wednesday. In his only appearance at The Players last year. Woods didn't break 70 and finished tied for 31st. He shot rounds of 71, 73, 72 and 73. I le has talked of using this tournament as preparation for the Masters in two weeks. lie has slightly changed that approach this year. "I always go to every event to win, but you also have to look at my ultimate goals to win majors," Woods said. "It would be great to win this tournament, but if I don't win, that's fine, too. Just as long as my game is peaking for the majors." Woods, who attended Stanford University, was asked for a prediction on the Stanford-Kentucky game in Saturday's Final Four. "It is going to be great when I go to San Antonio on Monday and watch my team," he said, smiling. B Els prepping for Masters: Els, fresh off last week's four-shot win at Bay Hill, said he thinks The Players Championship is a perfect tuneup for playing in the Masters. "This course, in a way, resembles Augusta a little bit," Els said. "This is a course where you have to start positioning your ball off the tee to give yourself a good angle for the second shot because the greens here have a lot LPGA's earnings list this year behind Liselotte Neumann, and 1997 player of the' year Annika Sorenstam is fifth. ; The trio of Swedish standouts will be among the-favorites this week in the Nabisco Dinah Shore, the' women's first major tournament of 1998. ' Alfredsson already has won twice this year, and; Neumann is coming off a victory at Phoenix last, weekend, with the two accounting for three titles in the LPGA's first seven tournaments. Sorenstam has 1 a tie for second place, a pair of fourths and a sixth to show for her four 1998 appearances. ;' Alfredsson said it's no mystery why players from her country are making a mark on the women's tour. ; "The boom of Swedish golf is because there is ' accessibility for everyone and we have great lead-; ers," she said of the corporate-sponsored junior of slope." Noteworthy: Tour officials added 100 yards to the Stadium Course, bringing its yardage to 6,950. . . . Golf legend Byron Nelson was on the practice tee helping his favorite student, Tom Watson. "With Tom, all you have to do is give him a few minor things, he's swinging so well." . . . Peter Ja-cobsen withdrew Wednesday because of a sore rib. His spot was taken by Trevor Dodds Jack Nicklaus was in town for a President's Cup meeting (he's the American captain) before leaving for an afternoon practice round at Augusta. Norman not haunted by what he hasn't accomplished program back home. It is their job, and they are not coaching as a part-time thing. Pia Nilsson (head coach of the Swedish Golf Federation) has taken it to the next level. "Pia calls it a flower bed, like watering a seed. You . get all the basics. When I was growing up, we had a , diary where we tracked conditioning, mental ap-; proach and what we ate. We sent it once a month to ' the Swedish Golf Federation." ' i During the winter, the aspiring pro golfers got a ; respite of sorts. ; "We did other sports, which was good. It keeps you fit and keeps your competitive edge. It was good J to take a break from golf because then you were clear ; when you came back. I miss that break now," said : Alfredsson, the Dinah Shore champion in 1993. ! "Physical fitness is an essential part of the game. ! We used to run in the snow all dressed up in mittens ; handy this week. Norman set the tournament record here in 1994 when he shot 24-under-par, but that doesn't seem too likely this week on greens hardened by hot, dry weather. I'm a competitor, but I wouldn't be devastated if I didn't because it wouldn't have one effect on my life." Norman reiterated those comments Wednesday. It's not that he's satisfied with what he's accomolished. It instead easy, gentle fashion." This is not Norman's way to ease away from competitive golf. He insists his passion for the game hasn't changed a bit and he's just as "ferocious" on the course as he was in his mid-20s. The problem for Norman. 43. is hp NORMAN From 1C Championship and missed the cut for the first time at Doral after he arrived from overseas 36 hours before the tournament. Norman, the Tour's all-time leading money-earner at $11.9 million, also took a softer approach to his well-documented fades in maiors whpn h reflects Norman's big-picture view of his life. "My aspirations haven't waned whatsoever, but there are a lot of other things that have happened in my life that people don't know about," he said. "I'm very much at peace with what's can't put yellow ropes around his life to shut off the constant distractions and judgments. He thinks he's getting better at it. For instance, he was told by several other olavers about a hi This is one of those weeks where you have to be as patient and consistent as you can with the speed these greens are going to get to," he said. "There's not going to be a lot of easy birdie chances." For Norman, not much has come easy recently. He accepts it from a profession that had made him rich and famous. And perhaps one of sport's easiest targets. "Sometimes the baggage gets to you," he said. "I keep asking people to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Then you might understand." and hats. When Liselotte and Eva (Dahloff, also a tour i player) and I were together in 1981, we were one of i the finest national teams ever in Sweden." I Neumann said, "You get help with everything j mental aspect, physical training. We had a junior tournament and if you showed any potential, you got ! picked for the team. I learned to practice, and I! learned how important physical training is." J Sorenstam said the mental approach taught "is a matter of playing every shot, go from A to B and just ! forget about the work to get to the end." ! talked before Doral. He has won two British Opens, Sit has yet to win a major in America. His most notable collapse was when lie lost a six-shot lead to Nick Faldo in final round of the 1996 Masters. "If I win every major -as yv, it wouldn't change my life one bu," he said then. "I still want to win because gone on with my life off the golf course. "I don't think I go at life any harder than what I did 10 years ago, but it seems like I've got a well-balanced life right now. And with that in mind, I seem to flow through every day in a nice, article written about him in a recent golf magazine. His response? "I haven't read it," Norman said. Norman is trying to accept a more patient approach, both on and off the course. That philosophy could come in imim & (www mm oamamu.wm ms mm immgb am w m torn i I J t I iV 4 m me ' W tbi. M ' m ft ,..:". ..:. -,...:'.,.. r. MoT Introducing the all new '98 Seville. It will change your mind about what to expect from a luxury performance sedan. -i -4ivc frtw ' ,s , x-'j 9 vy"? -j f v ' ' 5 m& " - .J 1 J ft ; vV 1 JL TilH ill- Wt M If. 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