Living by the Rules
This is an article from the May 29, 2000 issue
What is it that we like about golf? It's not only the rhythm of
Fred Couples's swing and the British Open at St. Andrews. It is
also the way the game so often brings out our better selves. When
things go wrong and strike everyone else as heartbreakingly
unfair, golfers seem to take it better than other sportsmen. An
almost surreal rash of gaffes emphatically proves the point.
At the Benson and Hedges International Open two weeks ago,
Padraig Harrington failed to sign his scorecard after the first
round. The error was not discovered until three days later, after
Harrington had taken a five-stroke lead. Thereupon the most
harmless violation on the books was paid for with golf's
equivalent of the death penalty. Harrington was disqualified.
What did he say? "I'm glad the problem came to light. I would
have hated to find out in six months and know I hadn't won fair
and square." Only in golf.
Three similarly disastrous incidents occurred last week. During
the final round of the Firstar Classic in Beavercreek, Ohio,
Karrie Webb was fighting for her fifth victory of the year when,
after failing to escape a bunker on the 8th hole, she took
another swing in anger and her wedge hit the sand, invoking the
rule that penalizes a player two shots for grounding a club in a
hazard. Webb took a triple-bogey 8 but rallied for a 30 on the
back side, including a dramatic eagle from the fairway on the
last hole. Had it not been for the penalty, Webb would have won
by one. Instead, she fell a stroke short to Annika Sorenstam. "I
knew [I would be penalized] right away," she said.
Meanwhile, at the NCAA Division III championships in Battle
Creek, Mich., Phil Gehring, a junior at Skidmore, signed for a 70
in the third round instead of the 71 he actually shot. Under the
same rule that cost Jacqueline Pung the '57 U.S. Women's Open,
Gehring was DQ'd. That meant that, in the play-five-count-four
format, Skidmore had to replace his score with the team's
fifth-best of the day, a 79. When the fourth round was rained
out, the cost was clear: Gehring's 71 would have given his team
the national championship. Instead, Skidmore finished third. What
did coach Tim Brown say? "Hey, it's history. Everyone feels bad
for Phil, but he'll be back next year."
Finally, at the NCAA Division I East Regional, North Carolina
State senior Karl Pettersson cruised home with an apparent
four-shot win, seemingly assuring the Wolfpack a spot in the May
31-June 3 national championships. For Pettersson, the moment was
especially sweet because it would have been his first victory
since transferring from Central Alabama, and he is very familiar
with the Lake Course at the Grand National Golf Club in Opelika,
Ala., where the championship tournament is to be played.
But as Pettersson was recounting his round, he suddenly realized
that at the par-4 8th hole, his 17th of the day, he had made a 6,
not the 5 that had been in his head when he putted out and signed
his card. A check of the scorecard revealed that his scorer had
also put down a 5. Because Pettersson had mistakenly attested to
a 70 instead of a 71, his fate was sealed, and he was
As a consequence, North Carolina State had to substitute an 81
and missed qualifying for the final by five strokes. "That was a
dagger in the chest, but it happens in golf," says Richard Sykes,
coach of the Wolfpack for 29 years. "To be honest, I'm glad the
mistake was caught. It would have come up somehow, somewhere, and
that would've been worse for Phil and everyone else. In golf you
are responsible for your score and your character. Sometimes that
can be harsh, but that's what I like about the game."
You're not alone, Coach.
Phil Mickelson is a warrior. With the third victory of this, his
30th year, Lefty brought his career total to a stout 16, and his
closing 63 at Colonial was the best finishing kick by a winner
on Tour since David Duval's 59 at last year's Bob Hope.
Suddenly, Mickelson's one-stroke loss in the '99 U.S. Open looks
more like a stepping stone than a stumble.
What do these players have in common?
They're the only golfers to hit every fairway during a 72-hole
Tour event. Claar did it at the 1992 Memorial, Frost in the '88
Tucson Open, Peete at the Memorial in '86 and '87.
Will the British Open winner's accomplishment be tainted if he
uses one of the drivers banned by the USGA?
--Based on 3,755 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Is disqualification too strong a penalty for
signing an incorrect scorecard? Vote at golfplus.cnnsi.com.
SYNONYMS for a PUTT THAT RIMS OUT
Air walk, Bat turn, blade runner, ghosted, in-n-out burger, Mick
Jagger, said no, story of my life, U-turn.
Last year only six Tour rookies finished among the top 125 on the
money list, thereby keeping their cards. Here are the members of
the class of '00 who are currently among the top 125.
Matt Gogel 33 $535,482
Edward Fryatt 63 $351,940
Jerry Smith 74 $309,617
Brad Elder 86 $272,736
Craig Spence 112 $165,581
Lisa Cave, St. Joseph's, Barbados
Cave, a Florida Southern senior, won the first-ever women's NCAA
Division II championship while leading the Moccasins to the team
title. The 1999 Division II-III NCAA titlist, Cave made up 10
shots in the final round with a one-over 72 at Texas Star Golf
Course in Euless. Her 310 total beat Jennifer Beames and Lyndsey
Devenish of Rollins by two.
Kevin O'Connell, Lexington, Va.
O'Connell, a sophomore at Greensboro (N.C.) College, won the
Division III individual crown, and the Pride took the team
title. The national crowns were the school's first in any sport.
O'Connell beat Skidmore's Joey Pohle and Wisconsin-Eau Claire's
Ryan Quinn by one stroke as the Pride topped Methodist, the
six-time defending champ, by a shot.
Stacey Smith, Troy, Mich.
Smith, a senior at Methodist, led the Lady Monarchs to their
third consecutive NCAA crown while winning the individual title
at the Division III championship. Smith shot a 28-over 316 to
beat teammate Melanie Tipps by three. The Monarchs, who took the
NCAA Division II-III title in 1998 and '99, finished 51 shots
ahead of runner-up Concordia (Minn.).
Submit Faces candidates to golfplus.cnnsi.com/faces.
Pros with a Price
Tiger Woods broke new ground last week when he pocketed more than
$1 million to play in Hamburg, Germany--the largest appearance fee
ever paid a golfer. Here are some other highlights in the history
of player inducements.
1900 Harry Vardon plays exhibitions in the U.S. for nine months
to promote the Vardon Flyer, a gutta-percha ball. The Vardon
Flyer is a flop because everyone wants the revolutionary Haskell
ball with its core of wound rubber thread. Vardon's fee is based
on ball sales, so his cautionary tale leads to the first rule of
appearance fees: Get the cash up front.
1926 Walter Hagen takes on Bobby Jones in a 72-hole match over
two days. Not only does Hagen win 12 and 11, but because Jones is
an amateur, Hagen also gets the gate receipts.
1946 Sam Snead goes to South Africa to play Bobby Locke in a
series of 16 matches for a guarantee of $10,000. Locke wins 12,
and Snead encourages him to try the U.S. Tour. Locke wins seven
times in the U.S. the next year, but never plays the Tour full
time thereafter because sponsors refuse to pay him in advance.
1956 Snead goes to the Brazilian Open for $5,000, with the
proviso that he will not be eligible for a cut of the purse. When
he opens with a 71, promoters moan that no one will show up if
Snead's not in contention. Snead says he might play better if he
has a shot at some prize money. The promoters agree, and Snead
reels off rounds of 64, 63 and 69 to win and clear a total of
$7,000 in a year in which he earns $8,253 on Tour.
1976 Jack Nicklaus has a policy of not taking cash to play in
any national championship, so for entering (and winning for the
fifth time) the Australian Open, he's paid a hefty fee to
remodel the Alister Mackenzie-designed Australian Golf Club in
1977 Lee Trevino is paid handsomely to accept an invitation to
play with golf nut King Hassan of Morocco. After three days of
the royal treatment in Rabat, Trevino finally meets the king, and
they play seven holes on his highness's private nine-hole course.
Trevino makes five birdies, shares a glass of champagne with
Hassan and heads home.
1978 For playing the New Zealand Airlines-Shell Open, Arnold
Palmer asks that he and five friends get a 10-day vacation Down
Under with fishing, ballooning and a trip to a health spa.
1996 Greg Norman receives $300,000--the same amount as the
purse--to play the Ford South Australian Open and wins the $40,500
first-place check as well.
1998 Woods, David Duval, Mark O'Meara and Payne Stewart pass up
the big bucks offered by the Standard Life Loch Lomond and
instead prepare for the following week's British Open by spending
quiet time as guests at Ireland's Waterville Golf Club,
Ballybunion and the K Club, where between casual rounds they
Pet of the Week
Judd, apparently abandoned, showed up in the front yard of
Jones's Atlanta house four years ago. A 10-time winner on the
LPGA tour, Jones travels with Judd, who weighs 75 pounds,
whenever she can drive to an event. "He loves the car," she says.
"He has a huge head and big jowls. Other drivers look over and
laugh at him."
Jones and the many other LPGA players who take their dogs on the
road stay at pet-friendly hotels. They exchange room keys so
early finishers can release the room-bound pooches (LPGA rules
forbid dogs at the course) for pit stops and play time. Judd's
favorite event is the ShopRite Classic in Atlantic City because
there is a course for him to roam adjacent to the hotel at which
When he's alone, Judd rummages through the contents of Jones's
bag. He is particularly fond of balls, gloves, headcovers and,
since learning to pull down the zippers on the bag, Power Bars
and Rolaids. "When I can't take him with me, I really miss him,"
Jones says. "He's been a balancing tool, which has helped my
game. Instead of staying holed up in my room, brooding about
golf, I go out with Judd and let the pressure fall away."