`Tiger Woods PGA Tour' takes you to golf links

GAME ROOM

December 02, 2004

Tiger Woods is faltering on the PGA Tour these days, while Vijay Singh has taken over the No. 1 ranking in the world. If only Woods could play like his video game character in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005.

All ribbing of Woods aside, this game from EA Sports excels because of the strong partnership with the PGA Tour which brings familiar names and faces from the tour to my Xbox for me to whoop on.

Oh, how I've longed to teach Ty Tryon a lesson on the links. Now I can.

One of the best components is the ability to create my own character from scratch.

With the Gameface II options, I gave my player a sweet goatee, a few bad-boy tattoos, some baggy shorts and a tank top with my personally designed scorpion logo.

I also tweaked his posture and swing to mimic my God-awful high-90s stroke.

I could have given my character more height and more brawn to improve his chances at bombing drives down the fairway, but I opted for something that mirrored my stature to make it feel like I personally was beating the pants off Rich Beem.

As I went through a couple of months worth of tournaments of the PGA Tour season mode, I amassed enough cyber cash to buy some better putters, better gloves from the virtual pro shop. I even bought some slick breakdancing moves for my character to use on the green when I sank a birdie.

Those dance moves are fun to watch, but I hope they don't spawn any real-life head spins on the greens by guys in plaid pants.

I don't want to have to starting yelling, "Hey, quit moonwalking all over my through line," before my putts.

When I played the Legends Pursuit mode, hip-hop tunes blared from my speakers as my character sank a birdie putt to trounce Billy "Bear" Hightower.

Hightower was one of the fantasy characters I had to topple in match-play to work my way up to such legends as Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

There's also a new feature to this title called Tiger Proofing, which allowed me to narrow a few fairways and manipulate the shape of some greens to make a course tougher. It's kind of a silly feature, and the default settings for the Monument Course at Troon North and Harbour Town were plenty tough enough. The course details are very good, by the way.

Overall, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 is a top-notch title. ($50) The game is rated "E" for everyone.

Ron Harris/Associated Press

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005

Price: $50.

Rating: E for ages 6 and older.

Platform: PlayStation 2; Xbox; GameCube.

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