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Woods tees up new tournament

| Thursday, March 8, 2007

The PGA Tour announced the latest addition to its schedule Wednesday and promised the new event will be a Yankee doodle dandy.

When you combine Tiger Woods, the Tiger Woods Foundation, the nation's capital and the Fourth of July holiday, could you expect anything else?

The AT&T National, as the new tournament will be known, is expected to be "conducted at a level commensurate with the invitationals," in the words of PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.

Those invitationals are the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Memorial Tournament -- hosted by Jack Nicklaus -- and the Colonial Invitational -- the pride and joy of the late Byron Nelson.

After the four majors, the Players Championship and the World Golf Championship events, the invitationals are considered a cut above the rest of the Tour events.

"This is a pretty historic day for us at the foundation and a dream come true for myself," said Woods, who said he and his late father, Earl, established hosting a PGA Tour event as one of their ultimate goals. "I wish my father could have been here to see it."

Woods' Learning Center in California has had more than four million youngsters go through its "Start Something" program. The foundation has been ready to expand eastward, and everything seemed to line up perfectly in the nation's capital.

"We've been looking up and down the East Coast, and we're anxious to bring our program to the D.C. area," Woods said. "Our impact can be pretty significant. We had 5,000 kids come through this year. So, we're very excited to do something for the kids here."

Earl Woods was a member of the Army Special Forces, which makes this event even more interesting. As the country celebrates its independence that week, the AT&T National will offer free admission to all active-duty personnel.

"Kids under 12 will get in free, too," Tiger Woods said. "The idea is for this to be a family-oriented affair, and we'll do all we can to make it that way."

For family reasons, Woods might not play in the inaugural event. He and his wife, Elin, are expecting their first child this summer, and while the due date hasn't been disclosed, early in July is the time most widely speculated.

"I plan on playing, dependent on the birth of our child," Woods said. "That's the most important thing in our life right now."

While it's assumed the tournament will be held at historic Congressional Country Club this year and next, that won't become official until the club's 2,500 members vote on the issue. The Tour is working on a contingency plan -- the Robert Trent Jones Club in Lake Manassas, Va.

The tournament will need a home in 2009 and 2011, when Congressional plays host to the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open, respectively.

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