Taking Ames at Tiger

RANDY SPORTAK, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

Yesterday's round aside, the Tiger Woods Express continues to roll on through the professional golf world.

It appears Woods is unbeatable whenever he takes to the links, and you can't help but wonder if pros can stop it. Or how they feel watching the world's No.-1 player.

Calgary's Stephen Ames believes the best way to combat Woods' dominance is to ignore how he's faring.

"You only have control of your game. That's the only thing you should be focusing on, not him or anybody else," Ames said yesterday. "You don't know what's going to happen. Ernie Els, at the (Alfred Dunhill Championship last year), had a two-shot lead and was in the middle of the fairway and then takes eight and loses by a shot. You don't know what's gonna happen.

"It's the same attitude you have to take when you're playing."

Back home for a couple weeks, Ames was at Golf Town's North Calgary location yesterday for the unveiling of the Nike SQ SUMO2 5900 driver.

The three-time PGA Tour winner doesn't need to be reminded Woods has taken his game to another level over the past 12 months, but sees that as a positive.

"Every year, I think it's going up another level. Tiger's obviously pushing the envelope more and more himself and dragging everybody else along with him," Ames said. "In '09, there are going to be some changes with the groove system and I'm very curious to see what happens with the numbers -- the driving distances and all that -- because a lot of guys are going to be taken out of the loop."

Ames, who'll be back on tour when the World Golf Championships Accenture Match Play Championship begins Feb. 20 in Tucson, Ariz., has jumped into another loop in the golfing world.

He's become a consultant with the Windmill Group's Legacy Club at Harmony project near the Springbank airport. The 27-hole course is being designed by Johnny Miller, but Ames is trying to learn the ropes.

"The idea behind it was for me to learn how to go about building golf courses and I asked Johnny if I could come along to learn from him," Ames said. "I'll probably be a form of a spokesperson for the housing development.

"It's a learning stone for me to get into it."

The course, slated to open in 2012, will stretch 8,100 yards from the furthest of the six tee boxes.

"It has to be because we're 3,500 feet above sea level and that 8,100 only turns out to be 7,200 at sea level. It has to be that long," Ames said.

As in long enough to be a host site for the Canadian Open, the only PGA stop north of the border?

"We're only making it a possibility by giving them an opportunity to look at Calgary and say, 'Is there a golf course in Calgary that can host it?' " he said.

"The possibility of it happening? We don't know. It's so up to the RCGA at this stage.

"I like to see the Canadian Open move around Canada and not just play in Toronto and Vancouver. They've played in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, but it should be in Nova Scotia all the way through Calgary and everywhere else."

Ames, coming off back-to-back seasons in which he's won more than US$2 million, will be off the tour for about three weeks.

The ability to escape the travelling circus is one of the lures of living with his family in Calgary -- even through a horrible cold snap.

He did leave the house for yesterday's unveiling, and took part in a "beat the pro" promotion to see if anybody could surpass his best drive with the new weapon.

He expected somebody to do the job, but then offered a reminder golf is about more than smashing it off the tee.

"It's not how you drive, it's how you arrive that's important," he said.

TIGER DESERTS TOP SPOT

Tiger Woods struggled yesterday and Ernie Els took advantage, surging into the lead of the Dubai Desert Classic with a 7-under 65.

Woods, who led after the first two rounds, missed putts, hit wayward drives and yelled at a photographer en route to a 73. He is at 7-under 209 and tied for fifth with five others.

Stenson shot a 68. European Tour money leader Lee Westwood (68) and Graeme McDowell (69) are tied at third at 208.

Meanwhile, after a frost delay for the third day in a row, golfers finally finished the second round yesterday at the FBR Open, with a logjam of five in the lead.

Camilo Villegas, Jonathan Byrd and Kenny Perry completed their rounds and joined J.B. Holmes and Doug LaBelle II at 9-under 133 halfway through the tournament.

Mike Weir of Bright's Grove, Ont., finished the second round at 4-under after carding a 68, while Jon Mills of Oshawa, Ont., sits at 2-under.


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