In case you ever wondered, no,

Tiger Woods

has never played the two greatest golf courses in our area, Merion and Pine Valley.

Confirmation of that came last weekend when Woods popped over for a practice round at the site of this year's U.S. Open, Oakmont Country Club outside Pittsburgh, another great course he had never played.

Afterward, chatting with a smattering of media members who turned out, Woods said his stop at Oakmont meant he had played every U.S. Open venue of the last 25 years - but not the once and future site of the 2013 Open.

"Ever been to Merion?" he was asked.

"Never," Woods was quoted as saying to the Associated Press. He could see where the conversation was headed. "I've never even been to Pine Valley or Seminole," he said.

Pine Valley is annually ranked the best course in the country by some publications, and it was strange Woods had never been in the southern New Jersey area long enough to play it. Jack Nicklaus went there during his honeymoon.

"I just don't ever go anywhere out of the way to play golf," Woods said. "I'm either at a tournament or getting ready to play in a tournament and working on my game at home. I love to play, but I'd rather stay home with my buds at Isleworth or Newport Beach."

Merion will host the U.S. Open in 2013, so as long as Woods can qualify that year, he'll eventually get to see the plaque on the 18th fairway - as he's walking past it to his ball - where Ben Hogan struck his mighty 1-iron in the final round of the 1950 U.S. Open.

Woods' first child is due this summer, probably closer to the British Open than the U.S. Open. Woods has said he wouldn't miss the birth, even if that meant skipping a major.

If the baby comes early, it might be a while before Woods returns to Oakmont. . . .

The Viking Classic in Annandale, Miss., already was feeling minimized by getting a spot on the PGA Tour calendar after the FedEx Cup competition was over. Then came the announcement from Augusta National that PGA Tour winners again would automatically qualify for the Masters - but only those events that offered full FedEx Cup points.

The Viking Classic is part of the Fall Series, meaning it offers no FedEx Cup points at all.

And the winner won't get that ticket down Magnolia Lane.

"It goes back to what we were years ago when we first started out," said Robert Morgan, the tournament's executive director. "We were official money, but we were not an official win, which was screwy. It's going to be the same in that respect. I would think not having the Masters invitation is going to be a negative."

The announcement from Augusta National was a double-edged sword for the Fall Series.

Winners of those seven events don't get an invitation to the Masters. However, the Masters will take the top 30 on the money list, meaning more players might compete in the fall if it means a chance for them to move into the top 30 on the money list.

The top 30 from the FedEx Cup points will be frozen after the Tour Championship, and all those players will be eligible for the Masters.

"I assume the tour doesn't have anything to do with what the Masters does," Morgan said. "But we were told more than one time that everything would be the same. This was a surprise and a disappointment." . . .

Electronic leader boards on the PGA Tour have been around almost 20 years, and Charles Howell III once described the sound of more than 5,000 yellow cubes turning over as machine-gun fire. At last, they're about to be replaced. The tour last week announced a three-year marketing deal with Mitsubishi Electric in which the company will supply 22 Diamond Vision LED scoreboards that will make their debut at The Players Championship next month. After that, officials say, the boards will be divided into traveling sets so 11 boards are at each PGA Tour event. The boards will be phased in during the summer, and all 11 should be in place starting with the first FedEx Cup playoff event at The Barclays the last week in August.

- Associated Press