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Golf roundup

Woods makes the call

His next tournament will be Quail Hollow

Associated Press / April 16, 2010

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Out of golf for five months until the Masters, Tiger Woods is waiting less than three weeks to tee it up again.

Woods announced yesterday he will play the Quail Hollow Championship, which begins April 29. It will be his first time playing at a tournament where tickets are sold to the general public since his spectacular downfall from a sex scandal.

Woods tied for fourth last week at the Masters, which has the most controlled gallery in golf. Weekly badges are secured months in advance, and fans fear losing them if caught showing poor etiquette. Woods received warm applause when he teed off in the first round, and the support was steady throughout the week.

Kym Hougham, tournament director for the Charlotte event, said they’ve been preparing for Woods’s possible participation for some time, and will need to make only slight tweaks with security plans.

“I think our crowds are very respectful and they always have been. The players have always told us that,’’ Hougham said. “If there is inappropriate behavior, we’ll act on it swiftly. I’m sure that if Tiger didn’t feel we could handle it he wouldn’t be coming here.’’

The early commitment was a sign that Woods plans to be helpful to the promotion of tournaments. He has been criticized for waiting until the last day to announce he was playing, except for tournaments in which he had a sponsorship connection.

The commitment deadline for Quail Hollow is next Friday.

PGA — K.J. Choi, who tied for fourth with Woods at the Masters, shot a 7-under-par 64 to take a two-stroke lead over Mike Weir and Greg Owen at the Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head, S.C.

There was a group of 13 players at 67 that included Brookline’s James Driscoll, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, and five-time Verizon-winner Davis Love.

Choi used a stretch of three birdies over four holes on the front nine to take the lead, then had a similar run on the back to separate from a crowded pack and finish with his lowest score this season. He rolled in a 30-footer for birdie on the 13th to catch Jerry Kelly and Love. He closed his charge by putting his approach to 2 feet on the 16th for a birdie.

It was Choi’s best showing at Harbour Town. Then again, he’d only played here once before, missing the cut in 2001.

Most years, the native of South Korea is at his home in Texas recuperating after the grind of the Masters. This time, Choi feels so good about his game — his 69.25 scoring average is second to Anthony Kim — he didn’t want to take a break.

“I’ve been playing good and I guess I wanted to keep the rhythm going,’’ he said. “And now that I’m here and I see the reactions of the gallery, the sponsors, I feel a lot of support here.’’

LPGA — Cristie Kerr, Na Yeon Choi, and Amanda Blumenherst each scored 13 points in their three six-hole matches to top the quarterfinal qualifiers in the inaugural Mojo 6 Jamaica Invitational in Montego Bay.

Kerr received the top seed in the event at Cinnamon Hill Country Club, and Choi took the No. 2 seed based on their world rankings.

Anna Nordqvist (12.5) was seeded fourth in the unofficial tournament, followed by Christina Kim (12.5), Brittany Lang (12), Suzann Pettersen (11.5), and Beatriz Recari (11.5). Pettersen and Recari advanced in a two-hole playoff with Angela Stanford.

Kerr, who will face Recari in the quarterfinals, beat the Spanish player 5-2 in the opening match, then tied Kristy McPherson at 3.5, and edged 15-year-old amateur Mariah Stackhouse, 4.5-2.5. Choi, set to play Pettersen, beat Lang, 4.5-2.5, tied Sophie Gustafson at 3.5, and topped Morgan Pressel, 5-2. Blumenherst routed Gustafson, 6-1, beat Stackhouse, 4.5-2.5, then lost to Recari, 4.5-2.5. Blumenherst will face Lang.

European — Thongchai Jaidee and Kim Do-hoon each shot 8-under 64 to share the lead after the first round of the China Open in Suzhou.

Thongchai played in the same group as Ryder Cup captains, Corey Pavin and Colin Montgomerie. Pavin shot a bogey-free 67, while Montgomerie finished at par 72.