When the LPGA canceled the Safeway Classic in the aftermath of
the Sept. 11 attacks, the tour's players received the decision
with mixed emotions, including desperation among those in the
nether regions of the money list. The Safeway in Portland was to
be the second-to-last tournament of the official season, and the
low earners had gathered there to play for their livelihoods.
With the Safeway eliminated, the last few exemptions for the
2002 season--the top 90 in winnings are fully exempt next year,
while Nos. 91 through 125 get partial exemptions--would be
determined in a one-week crapshoot at the season-ending Asahi
Ryokuken International Championship 3,000 miles away, in North
Complicating matters, the LPGA waited until Sept. 13 to cancel
the Safeway, a day after the PGA Tour pulled the plug on its
three tournaments for that week. The LPGA promised to supply a
chartered plane to take the players to the event in South
Carolina, but a handful of edgy players drove. Unable to find a
vacant motel along the way, Vicki Odegard (107th on the money
list) drove for 42 consecutive hours to her house near Asheville,
N.C., before resting. Outside Denver, at the unholy hour of 3
a.m. on Sept. 14, she was passed on Interstate 25 by a minivan
full of LPGA players, including Marrianne Morris (110th), bad
back and all. Morris has been playing with a bulging disk this
season, and cross-country drives aren't part of her physical
therapy. How did she endure the trip? "I drove some, I sat some,
and I lay on the floor some," she says.
Perhaps there is an AAA ad in all this because, amazingly,
Odegard and Morris were coleaders after vrooming to five-under
67s in the first round in North Augusta. Alas, they ran out of
gas over the ensuing 36 holes and were lapped by winner Tina
Fischer. Odegard finished 13th, Morris 16th, and neither player
cracked the top 90.
One of the week's success stories was rookie Jennifer Hubbard,
who arrived in Portland 124th on the money list but with a scant
$512 separating her from No. 128. Not wanting to take any chances
on the charter, Jennifer and her father-caddie, Doug, took the
only rental car they could find, a Hyundai Sonata--"I almost
started crying when I got into the car," Jennifer says of the
prospect of driving across the country in the tiny vehicle--and
lit out for their home in Van Alstyne, Texas. A couple of nights
in her own bed, some of Mom's cherry cobbler and an hour with her
teacher, Greg Morrison, got Hubbard ready to defend her spot on
the money list. "Canceling the tournament actually worked out for
me," she says. "I was hitting it poorly, but since we didn't
play, no one passed me. Then I went home and relaxed for a few
Hubbard is 5'9"and has a long, upright swing that calls to mind
that of the young Juli Inkster. Though Hubbard is among the
LPGA's top 30 in driving distance, she tiptoed around Mount
Vintage Plantation Golf Club last week with calculated restraint,
shooting a one-under 215 to finish 44th, nine strokes behind
Fischer, earning $4,830 and locking up number 120 on the money
list. On Sunday evening Jennifer and Doug piled into their
rental--this time a spacious minivan--and headed back to Van
Alstyne. Talking on a cell phone from Birmingham, Ala., Jennifer
said, "We've only got 10 hours to go. That doesn't seem so bad."
Woods Plans Trip to Japan
Globe-trotting is a part of Tiger Woods's job, but in the wake of
the terrorist attacks two weeks ago there have been doubts about
his willingness to travel overseas. Last week Woods responded by
committing to defend his title at the Nov. 15-18 World Cup, in
Gotemba, Japan. David Duval will reprise his role as Woods's
"It's a big deal for the tournament," says James Cramer, the
manager of communications for the World Golf Championships; the
World Cup is one of its four events. "It would have been pretty
glaring if the defending champions weren't there."
Woods sets the agenda in pro golf, and it has been speculated
that his decision to withdraw from last week's Trophee Lancome
outside Paris played a part in the decision to postpone the Ryder
Cup until 2002. In announcing that he was dropping out, Woods
said, "The security risks of traveling overseas at the present
time are too great."
With Woods going to Japan, the World Cup has a far stronger field
than the cast that showed up in Buenos Aires last year, the first
time the tournament was played under the umbrella of the World
Golf Championships. Ernie Els of South Africa (fourth in the
World Ranking), Vijay Singh of Fiji (fifth) and Sergio Garcia of
Spain (seventh) have committed to represent their homelands, as
have U.S. Open champ Retief Goosen of South Africa (13th) and
Thomas Bjorn of Denmark (17th).
Whether Woods's trip to Japan is a return to normalcy or a
special outing is unclear. (He is as popular as Mickey Mouse in
Japan, where he endorses the Asahi soft drink company's
products.) Tiger is also scheduled to play in the New Zealand
Open in January. Asked how the international political climate
could affect Woods's travel plans, including the trip to Japan,
Tiger's agent, Mark Steinberg, had no comment, which probably
means we can expect Woods to go abroad only if a war isn't in
With each passing week of this dull fall finish, it will become
increasingly obvious that the Ryder Cup should have been played.
Golf had the chance to pull at the heartstrings of two continents
of patriots. Instead, we were left with the letdown that came
with canceling the season's marquee event and with snoozefests
like this week's Texas Open. Wake us in 2002.
What do these players have in common?
They won on the Euro and the PGA tours this year. Garcia took the
Trophee Lancome plus the Colonial and the Buick Classic; Goosen,
the Scottish and U.S. opens; and Woods, the Deutsche Bank and Bay
Hill, the Players Championship, the Masters, Memorial and NEC.
Do you agree with the decision to postpone the Ryder Cup?
--Based on 1,951 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Which weighed most heavily in the Ryder Cup
postponement: foreign travel difficulties, as the PGA claims, or
Tiger Woods's fear of security risks flying abroad? Vote at
Rosters for the Ryder Cup are frozen, but we can't know the
state of the players' games a year from now. Here's how the 1999
teams stood in the Ryder Cup points standings at the end of the
2000 RANK 2000 RANK
1 Woods 1 Montgomerie 6
2 Duval 3 Westwood 1
3 Stewart -- Clarke 2
4 Love 8 Lawrie 21
5 O'Meara 115 Jimenez 11
6 Sutton 6 Olazabal 10
7 Leonard 20 Garcia 7
8 Furyk 11 Sandelin 92
9 Mickelson 2 Van de Velde 28
10 Maggert 31 Harrington 4
CP Lehman 5 Coltart 16
CP Pate 84 Parnevik 75
Pat Carter, HUNTINGTON, W.VA.
Carter, 33, an insurance salesman, won the West Virginia Amateur
championship for a seventh consecutive year, and the eighth year
overall. Carter fired a 10-under 274 to prevail by six strokes at
The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs. He has also been low
amateur in the West Virginia Open for the last four years.
Allison Martin, BAKERSFIELD, CALIF.
Allison, 16, won three American Junior Golf Association events
this season, all of them in her home state. She finished first in
the San Diego Junior by 10 strokes after having won the Ashworth
Junior at Quail Ranch in Moreno Valley, by one, and the ClubCorp
Junior at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, by four.
Stan Lee, HEBER SPRINGS, ARK.
Lee, 49, a part owner of Lost Creek Golf Club in Heber Springs,
won his fourth Arkansas Stroke Play, with an eight-under 208 at
Texarkana Country Club. Lee, who turned professional at the end
of August, also won the Stroke Play in 1971, '73 and 2000. In
addition he won four state match-play titles, all in the '70s.
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