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Fighting Tiger

Sports | A masterful shot gives Tiger Woods a fourth victory at Augusta

Issue: "The fewer and the proud," April 23, 2005

Hole No. 16 in the final round of the Master's Golf Tournament set up for Nike and Tiger Woods like a commercial. There was Tiger Woods, in medias res, after botching a drive on the par three that left him off of a remote part of the green. Mr. Woods led by one stroke over Chris DiMarco, but seemed poised to lose his advantage. He wore his black Nike cap and a red Nike shirt, and for a moment, the camera caught him looking back and forth, searching for something to aim at.

His target: a ray of light striking trees in the background. That's the direction he wanted his chip shot to go. The ball landed where he intended, took a right turn down a slope and angled for the cup. And then the ball hung on the lip-Nike swoosh caught in mid-air-and after a two-second pause, dropped into the cup. The birdie didn't just give Mr. Woods enough insurance to survive bogies on Nos. 17 and 18 before finally winning his fourth Master's in a playoff. It also silenced critics who started last year to criticize Mr. Woods's golf game. "A lot of it is luck, but I hit it pretty good. I hit it right on the spot," Mr. Woods said.

Talent vs. character

If time away from football was bad for former Ohio State freshman star Maurice Clarett, the opposite is true for vagabond quarterback Adrian McPherson. Once Mr. McPherson was a blue-chip quarterback for Florida State. But in 2002, the Seminoles kicked him off the team because of gambling charges. He was also accused of cashing stolen checks. After his ouster from Florida State, Mr. McPherson has bounced around the Arena Football League before becoming draft eligible this year.

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So what role will Mr. McPherson's spotty past play when the NFL begins its amateur draft on April 23? According to some reports, the ex-Seminole shot up in some teams' estimation after a few good workouts, including 40-yard-dash times close to 4.5 seconds. Some believe he is the draft's fourth-best quarterback and could be taken in the second round. After all, in the NFL talent always trumps character in April.

Around the Horn

· Indiana Pacers center Jermaine O'Neal bristles when he hears NBA commissioner David Stern talk about a league age limit of 20. Mr. O'Neal says the commissioner's initiative could be a racist ploy: "As a black guy, you kind of think that's the reason why it's coming up. You don't hear about it in baseball or hockey." Mr. O'Neal entered the league directly from high school in 1996.

· Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington is giving legendary coach Joe Gibbs a taste of the modern athlete. Mr. Arrington, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, said he thought the Redskins rushed him back onto the field last year and now the team isn't reaching out to him. He blamed the impasse on a lack of relationship with Mr. Gibbs, the Redskins' fifth coach during Mr. Arrington's tenure. So far, the Redskins coach has remained grandfatherly. "LaVar was emotional and said some things," Mr. Gibbs said.

· So what do you do if you're $30 million in debt? Go back to work. And former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson plans to do just that. Mr. Tyson announced April 12 he planned on returning to the ring for a bout against Irish fighter Kevin McBride in Washington, D.C., on June 11. Mr. Tyson had a much calmer demeanor during the announcement than during previous press conferences. In 2002, Mr. Tyson vowed to eat Evander Holyfield's children during the pre-fight meeting. This time, Mr. Tyson simply told fighting fans he'd put on a good show: "It's going to be a train wreck."

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