Davis Love III would be the player of the year if he was paired
with Fred Couples or Brad Faxon every week. Love is a sensitive
type who always plays better when a close friend is around to
hold his hand.
A Major News Cycle
As if the Nabisco and the Players weren't enough, the Masters
made a slew of headlines too. Here's our report card on a wild
April 7, 2003
ARNOLD PALMER The King will rise again after all, and his
surprise announcement suddenly brought the golf into focus for
next week's Masters.
LORENA OCHOA The 21-year-old had Sunday's low round at the
Nabisco (68) to surge to third place, giving her two straight top
10s to open her rookie year.
PGA TOUR PURSES The Players had the biggest pot in history, $6.5
million, paying $1,170,000 to winner Davis Love III.
PHIL MICKELSON He skipped Sawgrass to attend to wife Amy and
newborn son Evan, burnishing his reputation as golf's most
dedicated family man and further reducing expectations for him at
the Masters, which may finally free him up to play his best.
BILLY MAYFAIR After shooting a first-round 81 at the Players, he
came back with a 69. Mayfair still missed the cut, but he
displayed class and true professionalism.
LAURA DAVIES The LPGA's big bopper finally showed signs of life
after an extended slump stateside, mounting a weekend charge to
HOOTIE JOHNSON Augusta National's embattled chairman displayed
the good sense to acknowledge his error and restore the lifetime
champions' invitation that he had ham-handedly revoked last year.
MICHELLE WIE The Big Wie-sy showed off a monster long game and
outrageous poise. If her putting improves, the sky's the limit.
MARTHA BURK She made a monumental blunder in equating her narrow
struggle with that of women soldiers, marginalizing her in the
NATALIE GULBIS Last year's It Girl has suddenly been overshadowed
by a bevy of other youngsters. A 48th at the Nabisco only
extended her malaise.
LPGA PURSES The Nabisco's $1.6 million purse is the third largest
of the year, but the winner's $240,000 was less than the Players'
ERNIE ELS He skipped Sawgrass to nurse a sore right wrist,
sustained when a punching bag scored a TKO on him. Els has been
obsessing about the Masters for months, but it looks more and
more as if he peaked in February.
MICHAEL CAMPBELL The Kiwi shot an 89 to open the Players but was
DQ'd when he signed for an 87. Hey, Mike, if you're going to
fudge it, next time you might as well jot down a 64.
FRED COUPLES At times this year he has looked like the Boom-Boom
of old, but a wobbly 74 on Sunday was a step back for this
JACK NICKLAUS Unfortunately, he too decided last week to give it
another go at the Masters. We can accept Arnie as a ceremonial
golfer, but it's painful to watch the proud Bear struggle to
AREE SONG She's no longer going by Wonglukiet, which hasn't made
it any easier to remember this fast-being-forgotten prodigy.
THE NEW MATH Arnold Palmer to play in another Masters
[Energizer bunny] - [Pocket watch] - [Letter to Arnold Palmer] -
[Nelson, Sarazen, Snead] = [Arnold Palmer]
Deane's Trailer Trash-talkin'
From the Things You'll Never See at a Real Major Dept.: John Daly
spent last week camped in the parking lot at the TPC at Sawgrass
in his custom recreational vehicle. While unsightly, the 30-foot
house on wheels was, for at least one bemused observer, better
than the alternative. Former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman,
citing the many meltdowns in Daly's past--including the occasional
Keith Moon-like hotel trashing--thought that allowing Daly to
sleep on-site was a great idea. "I would have done anything to
keep him out of a hotel," said Beman.
Sawgrass is losing one of its most notable residents. Rocco
Mediate plans to sell his home on the Valley Course and move to
the Palencia Club in nearby St. Augustine, Fla. There, his
4,000-square-foot pool house will be next to the 16th green of
the Arthur Hills course and will have access to the Intracoastal
Waterway, but Mediate sounds most excited about the new digs'
being closer to the schools of his three children.
Tom Kite attended Sunday's NCAA South Regional final in San
Antonio to cheer his alma mater, Texas, into the Final Four, but
he wasn't the only interested golfer there. Brent Buckman, the
director of golf at Austin's exclusive Spanish Oaks Golf Club, is
the father of Brad Buckman, a 6'8" freshman who had 11 points,
four rebounds and three steals for the Longhorns in a key
performance off the bench.
Wondering how Davis Love III's victory foreshadows his play at
the Masters? Since 1998 four Players' champs have finished in the
top 10 at Augusta, including Tiger Woods, who won in 2001.
Hey, at least he's got perspective: When asked last week about
the membership issue at Augusta National, Retief Goosen shrugged
and said, "Hey, at least they allow women spectators."
VOTE AT GOLFONLINE.COM
THIS WEEK: Did the Masters make the correct decision in
reinstating the lifetime exemption for past champions?
LAST POLL: How many major championships will Tiger Woods win this
-Based on 6,389 responses to our informal survey