By Chris Lewis
May 18, 2005

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Any Tour regular will tell you that Fort Worth is the toughest place on the schedule to get a good night's sleep. A railroad runs through the center of town, and if you're bunking at the Unlucky Arms, you can spend every night living a scene out of My Cousin Vinnie. You can, of course, sleep with the windows closed, but that means roaring hotel air conditioning, and waking up at 3 a.m. feeling like Mr. Freeze.

It doesn't help matters that this year's Texas two-step, the Tour's annual 14-night encampment in Dallas and Fort Worth for the Nelson and Colonial, is producing scores of odd little subplots. None is grand enough to prevent you from nodding off in the first place, but they're variously puzzling, funny or curious enough to poke and prod you awake during the wee hours like so many fidgety bedmates. Here are my five favorites so far.

1. The oddest thing about this week is that Tiger and Vijay are going to swap places at the top of the world ranking while both are idle. Please, don't ask. I can only tell you that it has something to do with the expiration (or "attrition") of previously earned points. If I were smart enough to understand the ranking system, I'd be in another job.

But don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking the system. To me it seems right that Tiger was No. 1 for a few weeks following his Masters win, and equally fair that Vijay is returning to the top spot right ... about ... now.

2. So how is Vijay spending this week? On Monday he hopped a plane to Fiji, where he'll visit the Natadola Marine Resort, site of his first golf course project. Tour insiders knew that Singh hadn't returned to his homeland for a long time but had no idea just how long. "It's got to be six, maybe seven years," Singh said Sunday.

The visit will include a reunion with his brother, Krishna, who is helping with the venture, but will otherwise be a low-key island business trip. At least that's how Vijay tried to set it up.

"I was going to go there without telling anybody," he said. "But they probably have a few things planned." Wouldn't he want at least a little fanfare? "I get enough over here," he smiled. Of the chances there will be a hero's welcome at the airport, Singh added, "I'm arriving at three in the morning, so we'll see."

3. Meanwhile, Colonial Country Club seemed a little like a ghost town on Monday, mostly because there were absolutely no caddies on the grounds. (It was as if Fulton Allem and David Frost held hands and made a wish, and it suddenly came true.)

Actually, the bagmen were all at a nearby course for the annual caddie tournament. This year the trophy went to Damon Green, Zach Johnson's caddie. But that wasn't the most interesting thing about the event.

Beforehand, about 70 loopers kicked in $20 each for a skins game. Naturally, with so many players involved, no skins were won. So what to do with the money? The loopers decided to take the entire $1,400 kitty and use it -- what else? -- to buy tickets for Wednesday's $63 million Texas state lottery drawing.

If you turn on your TV on Thursday and see Colonial looking like a ghost town again, you'll know one of their tickets hit.

4. By now most golf fans know the story of Sean O'Hair, the young golfer whose father's training methods were so draconian that they seemed to many (including a 60 Minutes news team) to border on abuse. Watching O'Hair tough it through the final round of the Nelson, most every reporter in attendance at some point had the same unpleasant thought: Did O'Hair's steadiness to some extent derive from that training?

During his post-round news conference O'Hair went from refusing to talk about his father to making imprecise comments that suggested he did indeed want to acknowledge him -- at one point saying, for example, "A lot of people have gotten me here. I've got a lot of debts to pay."

Each such remark was a verbal reminder of the tightrope between present and past that O'Hair has to walk every day, trying, on one hand, to forget his father, while at the same time embracing the game his father forced on him. That news conference was one of the most interesting I've ever attended. But I would need a different kind of academic degree to claim that I fully understood it.

5. The winner's news conference, on the other hand, was lighter in tone. Midway through it, Ted Purdy delivered the undisputed greatest caddie shout-out of all time, recounting the Wednesday conversation that ceded all of the week's course management decisions to Paul "Pablo" Jungman.

Said Purdy, "Paul decided to speak up this week. He said on Wednesday, 'Let me steer you around. Give me the reins this week and we'll win.' And we was right, we won."

The conquering hero -- Jungman, not Purdy -- arrived at Colonial on Tuesday bearing not Purdy's bag, but Brian Gay's (an employment pledge made weeks earlier). Right off the bat he complained about the start time of the Monday caddie tournament.

"A caddie tournament that starts at 9 a.m.? How about 2:30?" moaned Jungman, who admitted to having "a little red wine" in celebration on Sunday night.

Pablo subsequently gave a shout-out of his own, saying Purdy would likely have been disqualified from the Nelson on Thursday had it not been for the friendly intervention of a fellow looper.

During round one, on the second green at Cottonwood Valley, Purdy had to move his ball marker so that playing partner Brant Jobe could putt out. Jobe holed his putt, and Purdy began to place his ball on the ground. It wasn't until Jobe's caddie, Corby Segal, mentioned moving the marker back that Purdy and Jungman realized they had forgotten something.

"I gave him a couple hundred yesterday [at the caddie tournament]," Jungman said of Segal. "I figured I owed him a couple of beers."

You May Like