Steve Jones and the Quad City got well together
Toms! Jones! Gump! Funk! The stars came out at last week's Quad
City Classic in Coal Valley, Ill., where Steve Jones staged a
duel with Scott Gump and David Toms that quickened pulses
citywide. The field was thinned when a few guys skipped the Quad
to prep for the British Open, but aside from Tiger Woods, Ernie
Els, Davis Love III, David Duval, Justin Leonard, Fred Couples,
Phil Mickelson, Mark O'Meara, Tom Lehman and 20 other top 30
players, everybody showed up.
This Rodney Dangerfield of tournaments has never gotten its
props. If you want to dismiss a Tour pro's career, just say,
"Where'd he ever win, Quad City?" How lore poor is the event?
Its inaugural winner was Deane Beman. Ed McMahon used to be its
celebrity host. Quad City had spent its 26-year history on the
brink of extinction until last spring, when the lawn-mower blade
of fortune spun the Quad's way. Deere & Company, the tractor
giant based in nearby Moline, signed on as sponsor through 2006.
There was greenmail involved: Deere gets to be Official Turf
Equipment Supplier for the Tournament Players Club network. That
means plenty of long green for the mowermaker. It also means a
new name and venue for the tournament. Next year the Quad City
Classic becomes the John Deere Classic and moves to the new D.A.
Weibring-designed TPC at Deere Run. "We have the longest
sponsorship deal on the Tour," says tournament director Kym
Hougham. With the Tucson tournament doomed and a half-dozen
other Tour stops, including New England, Milwaukee, Texas and
this week's Deposit Guaranty Classic, endangered, this event's
future is assured.
Sunday's duelists included Jones, Gump and defending champ Toms.
At the 15th hole Gump drove into a forest of rough and
disappeared. Then Toms cried uncle. Faced with a miserable lie
under a tree at 16, he took an unplayable, double-bogeyed the
hole and fell out of sight. That left Jones in charge. The 1996
U.S. Open champ seemed out of place among so many grinders
dreaming of the Masters invitation and two-year Tour exemption a
victory would bring. Still, his best finish this year had been a
tie for fourth at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic six months ago.
"I've been the height of mediocrity," said the 6'4" Jones. After
sinking a crucial par putt at the 12th hole, he turned his hat
sideways and stuck out his tongue. Message: Quad City is fun city.
July 19, 1998
Tournament director Hougham felt festive, too. "We have clawed
and scratched for 26 years," he said. "Now, finally, we've
reached the summit."
The last Quad City champ tipped his cap to fans and fate. "I
didn't think I could hit it far anymore," said Jones, who missed
nearly three years in the early '90s with hand injuries. "I
thought I'd have to outthink everyone. This week I thought better
and hit the ball as far as ever. I've been impatient with my
game, but today I was patient."
He couldn't wait to catch a plane to England for the British
July's brushfires threatened LPGA International Golf Course and
the tour's headquarters in Daytona Beach, leaving the HQ
building surrounded by moatlike trenches dug by firefighters.
"The fires came right at the clubhouse," says Pam Phipps,
director of golf at LPGA International. "I saw smoke and red
flames on both sides of us." Following business-school
fire-drill procedure, Phipps grabbed cash and receipts from the
pro shop and ran for her life. Outside, where deer and rabbits
were fleeing the fires in a scene out of Bambi, she encountered
thick smoke, police cars with lights and sirens running, and
firefighters shouting evacuation orders. Call that doomsday
picture Armageddon Outta Here. "I thought, Pam, get going," says
Afterward, firefighters told her that LPGA International
probably helped save the day. "They said it might have stopped
the fire," she says. "There are housing developments around here
that might have burned down if not for the course." Apparently
the moist, nearly treeless fairways of the Rees Jones-designed
track, which is no favorite of the tour's players, discourages
Last Friday, on a ride around the course's scorched periphery,
Phipps found a souvenir in the rough beside the 5th fairway--a
Dunlop DDH III blackened and bubbled like a campfire marshmallow.
"Now that," she says, "was a hot golf ball."
THE SHAG BAG
Pak Talk: Reporters who would never quote a Southern golfer as
saying, "Ah reckon ah done good" keep quoting Se Ri Pak in
pidgin English. Last week Pak was widely quoted as saying of her
riotous galleries, "They make big loud. I feel more better with
No Jack City: Gimpy-hipped Jack Nicklaus has been jilted
by Donald Trump. The Golden Bear's Paragon Construction
International Co. had been building the Donald a $40 million golf
resort in Palm Beach, Fla., until Trump, who reportedly felt that
Jack's firm was moving too slowly, dumped him for another
Five Alive: Gil Morgan may have stolen Hale Irwin's
thunder at the Senior Players Championship, but it's Irwin who is
working on the streak of '98. No one has played a full season
without missing the top 10 at least once, but Irwin has yet to
miss the top five in any Senior event this year.
Slow-footed: Shoe salesmen are bemoaning the sluggish sales of
Nike's black-and-red Tiger Woods signature golf spikes (below),
which sell for more than $200. "A disaster," one retailer calls
the Tiger line. Another complains that the spikes "look like
What's New, Pussycat? Is Woods, who clouted a 440-yard drive at
Royal Birkdale on Monday but seems ever more prone to sudden
train wrecks, exasperating his caddie? One truism on Fluff
Cowan's Web site (www.fluffsite.com) this week is, "Remember,
you don't have to go for every shot."
The 20th Hole: "Boomers are hustling to reinvent the rituals of
loss," writes undertaker Thomas Lynch in The New York Times. The
last word in cremation: a designer urn shaped like a golf bag.
No Caddy, Thanks: Connecticut businessman Tom Graham qualified
for the U.S. Senior Open last week, but don't expect him to turn
pro. At a pro-am last year, Graham noted that a Cadillac was
being offered for a hole in one. "I had car trouble this
morning. Which way does the green break?" he asked just before
acing the hole. Graham declined the car to preserve his amateur
status, but it found a home when a pro in the next group aced
Child's Play: Todd Miller, son of Johnny, tied for fifth at last
week's Junior Tournament of Champions in Coto De Caza, Calif.
Kevin Stadler, scion of the Walrus line, came in 11th behind
winner John Lepak.
Fussy Zoeller: Fuzzy Zoeller has sued Florida Today over a satire
the newspaper published in which he was quoted as saying, "Hey,
what about that Japanese golfer, Marry Yo Mama.... I wouldn't
mind if he won. I kind of like egg rolls." Zoeller's lawsuit
seeks damages for a "false, misleading and dishonest article."
Speed Bump: Casey Martin hit a 30-yard tee shot during last
week's Quad City Classic. Martin's duffed drive off the 18th tee
on Saturday contributed to a 73 that knocked him out of the hunt,
but he rallied for a final-round 69 and earned $3,178 for 66th
HAVING A BALL ACROSS THE POND
Matt Kuchar (above), the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, and
Sergio Garcia, the British Amateur champ, brought rock star
sizzle to last week's Loch Lomond World Invitational in Glasgow,
Scotland. If their meeting fell short of Ali-Frazier I, it was
at least a match for a Hanson concert. Kuchar, 20, has been
courted by agents and equipment firms promising instant millions
should he turn pro. Garcia, Spain's 18-year-old El Nino, a.k.a.
Europe's Tiger Woods, a.k.a. the New Seve, is three up on Kuchar
in nicknames but was streaky at best in two Nike tour outings
last spring. Kuchar, Garcia and Justin Rose, England's top teen
golfer, joined Tom Lehman for a practice round at Loch Lomond
last Tuesday. The cocky Garcia piped up, "What are we playing
for?" Lehman praised the kids after the round, but he voiced
doubts that they have any chance in this week's British Open.
"You're only as good as your misses, and most amateurs miss
big," he said. Asked which kid is better, Lehman said, "From
what I saw this week, Sergio has the best chance. He hits it
When will they turn pro? Kuchar dined with Ely Callaway recently
at the Four Seasons in Atlanta. He bought his own food, as
amateur rules require, but sounds tired of paying his own way.
"My future has been weighing heavily on me," Kuchar said at Loch
Lomond, where he missed the cut. "Tom [Lehman] says I'm ready.
Ernie Els, too. I'd like to earn some money to take care of
expenses instead of costing my dad $2,000 every trip."
Garcia, who continued a pattern of rookie crumbles by following a
71-71 start with a 76-76 to finish 18 shots behind Loch Lomond
winner Lee Westwood, said he'll turn pro "next year--after the
Masters, I think." Jose Marquina, his adviser and caddie, told SI
that Garcia will seek a sponsor's exemption to make his PGA Tour
debut in October at the Walt Disney World Classic.
As for Garcia's challenge before their practice round, Lehman,
who went on to tie for ninth at Loch Lomond, reminded El Nino
that they weren't playing the Ryder Cup. "But we will play for
the Fruit Cup--a couple of oranges and a banana." The collision of
current and future heavyweights ended without a knockout. "The
match was tied," said Lehman. "No fruit changed hands."
The July 20-24 World Scientific Congress of Golf at the
University of St. Andrews is funded in part by the USGA and the
Royal and Ancient Golf Club. That doesn't preclude what
organizers call "a relentless social program" featuring a pub
crawl and an alternative Ryder Cup, with European eggheads
teeing it up against teams from the rest of the world. Delegates
can also attend a workshop titled "Does Golf Have to Hurt?" The
pain in question is not from the usual post-round depression,
but from such maladies as backaches and fallen arches.
Scientists will present 93 papers on topics from golf ball
construction to "A Kinematic Analysis of Foot-Force Exerted on
Soles During the Golf Swing among Skilled and Unskilled
Golfers." Visit www.golfscience.co.uk to learn more, but you
must attend in person to join the pub crawl, during which
psychologists and kinesiologists meet the local mixologist.
Cool As Cotton
Henry Cotton was a three-time British Open champ, a three-time
Ryder Cupper and the 1953 Ryder Cup captain. He was also the
inspiration for a ball, the Dunlop 65, which was numbered in
honor of his second-round score in the 1934 Open. Sir Henry was
a stylish guy, a dapper dresser with a Mercedes and a black
Rolls- Royce in his garage. He always kept cool on the course.
At Muirfield's 1st tee during the '48 Open, he was introduced to
King George VI, the first monarch to attend the event. Cotton
calmly banged his drive down the middle, birdied the hole and
went on to shoot a course-record 66. His five-shot win over Fred
Daly that week was his last significant victory. In retirement,
playing casual golf on a course he designed on Portugal's
Algarve Coast, Cotton grew less fashion conscious. As he played
out his last days, he used his pet donkey as his caddie.
What do these players have in common?
--Se Ri Pak
They hold the 72-hole scoring records on the PGA, LPGA and
Senior tours, respectively.