Coast with the Most
Tiger Woods emphasized the loose in the interpretation of loose
impediments by rallying his fans to move a VW-sized boulder at
the Phoenix Open. David Duval shot a 59 to win the Bob Hope
Classic, but he remained No. 2 and went snowboarding while the
Whirled Ranking was bombarded by mad Davidians. Nick Faldo, when
asked to evaluate his game before the World Match Play, replied
with unusual pith, "It's a mixture of karaoke and rap: It's
From the Mercedes to the Match Play, the nine-tournament West
Coast swing was bigger (by one World tour event), bolder and
more engaging than ever. The swing featured a $10 million jump
in prize money over '98, an 8.24% increase in strength of field
and eight more rounds of TV coverage. Here were some of the
bests, and worsts, of the West.
ON THE MILK CARTON Last year at this time Phil Mickelson was
poised to become King of the Swing. (He wouldn't hit No. 1 on
the West Coast money list until the end of the suspended AT&T on
Aug. 17.) This year we were ready to declare him MIA until he
advanced to the third round of the Match Play, winning $75,000
and moving from No. 44 to No. 36 on the money list, and handed
the West Coast flop hat to another lefty, Steve Flesch. The '98
rookie of the year seems to be awaiting a spring thaw at No. 82.
(Mark O'Meara, whose top finish is a tie for second at the
Mercedes, would get a dishonorable mention here, but his best
result at this time last year was--hold on to your green
jackets--a T2 at the Mercedes.)
BEST ASSIST Horizontal rain helped horizontal Payne Stewart get
back on his feet at Pebble Beach, and Bryon Bell was on the bag
for Woods's win at the Buick, but nobody sends pick-me-up
bouquets like Jumbo Ozaki. By ducking the Match Play, Ozaki gave
a reprieve to No. 65 Nick Faldo (who lost to Woods, thereby
earning his $25,000 door prize) and to Michael Bradley. Bradley,
the '98 Doral champ, went from being the 63rd seed, and having a
first-round date with David Duval, to the 62nd and a match with
O'Meara, who was so horrid in losing 4 and 2 to Bradley that the
victor remarked, "Mark O'Meara was not Mark O'Meara today."
Bradley promptly lost 2 and 1 to Jose Maria Olazabal on
Thursday, collected a Jumbo-aided $50,000 and four World Ranking
points, and skipped town.
CHEAP SHOT AWARD (for going low without warning) Duval's 59
doesn't count--we knew he had game. Nor does Woods's 62 at the
Buick, for the same reason. Ted Tryba's 61 at Riviera came the
week after he had opened with a pair of 65s at San Diego. What
was odd were the gyrations of Jonathan Kaye, a 28-year-old free
spirit who, after gurgling down a second-round 83 at the Hope,
chased it with a third-round 62. The 21-stroke improvement was
the biggest on Tour since 1985.
ROOKIE OF ONE FIFTH OF THE YEAR There's no obvious choice here,
so we'll go gutless, just like our Presidents Cup captains, and
pick this one by the numbers. Chris Riley, a 1996 UNLV grad who
lists his Nike tour-playing brother, Kevin, as his hero, is 38th
on the money list with $185,058.
WING OF THE SWING Greg Norman has rebounded from shoulder
surgery (Tom Lehman's bid was derailed when he lost 3 and 1 to
Scott Verplank in the first round at La Costa) and will receive
a gold socket wrench. Norman, second by a stroke at the
Australian Masters, won his first match at the Andersen, then
blew a 3-up lead with four to play in losing to Eduardo Romero.
Insert your own same-old-Shark joke here.
PLEASE WELCOME Ted Tryba, who hit toy golf balls out of his
granddad's mouth and is the new holder of the course record at
Hogan's Alley.... Frank Lickliter, whom you don't want to meet
in Hogan's or any other alley, now starring at No. 14 on the
money list.... Michael Jordan, five-time NBA MVP and first-time
Most Visible Person on the Pro-Am circuit.
WEST COAST TOAST AWARD This one's tough to call, what with West
Coast neophytes Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood
and Ian Woosnam flying thousands of miles only to lose in Round 1
at La Costa. Give Clarke his props for reaching the 18th hole,
and hand the charred Wonder Bread to Monty, who departed after a
dismal 5-and-3 loss to Craig Stadler and whose 15-hole West Coast
swing ties Faldo's for the shortest in history.
In almost every category this year's West Coast tournaments
surpassed their numbers from 1998.
PURSE TV RATINGS FIELD STRENGTH ATTENDANCE
Mercedes +52.9% -5.6% -1.9% -66.6%
Hawaii +44.4% NA +15.4% No change
Bob Hope +30.4% -25.6% +4.1% +13.8%
Phoenix +20.0% -12.5% +7.9% -9.6%
Pebble Beach +12.0% -5.6% +5.9% +1.7%
Buick +28.6% +45.0% -4.6% +25.0%
Los Angeles +33.3% +20.8% +26.1% +27.1%
Match Play First-year event
Tucson +25.0% NA -30.6% +8.4%
What do these players have in common?
They hold the records for most strokes under par in a 72-hole
event on the LPGA, PGA and Senior tours, respectively. Webb was
26 under at last week's Australian Masters, Huston shot 28 under
at the '98 Hawaiian Open, and Nicklaus was 27 under at the '90
Mazda Senior Players.
Did the World Match Play exceed, meet or fall short of your
Fall Short 38%
--Based on 7,408 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Would you like to see Arnold Palmer continue to
play a full schedule on the Senior tour, or should he retire? To
vote, go to www.cnnsi.com/golf.
Birdies and eagles didn't guarantee a win, but they came close
in the World Match Play. Here are the event's top rounds based
on the percentage of subpar holes.
PCT. RD. RESULT
50.00 John Huston 6 W 5&4
46.67 Vijay Singh 1 W 5&3
40.00 Tiger Woods 1 W 4&3
37.50 John Huston 1 W 3&2
37.50 Lee Janzen 1 W 3&2
37.50 S. Maruyama 2 W 4&2
35.71 Brandt Jobe 1 W 3&2
35.71 Loren Roberts 1 W 5&4
35.29 Thomas Bjorn 2 L 2&1
Martin Catalioto, Ramsey, N.J.
Martin, 16, won the MCI Junior Classic at the Sea Pines
Plantation on Hilton Head Island, S.C., by beating Jason
Hartwick of Sacramento in a playoff. A sophomore at Bergen
Catholic High, Martin was all-state as a freshman and is the
reigning Metropolitan Golf Association junior champ.
Cristina Baena, Pereira, Columbia
Baena, a freshman at Arizona, led the second-ranked Wildcats to
a nine-shot win in the Arizona Invitational. Baena, whose sister
Marisa was the 1996 NCAA champion and is now on the LPGA tour,
tied for third at four-under 212, six shots behind the
individual winner, Grace Park of Arizona State.
Jerry Tucker, Stuart, Fla.
Tucker, 49, won the PGA Match Play at PGA National in Palm Beach
Gardens with a one-up win over John Hickson of Bethel, Maine.
The head pro at Bellerive C.C. in St. Louis from 1987 to '96,
Tucker was the Gateway PGA section's teacher of the year in '88,
player of the year in '93 and top pro in '94.