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Same Old Story John Huston is the latest all-too-familiar winner in a tedious season

Oct. 13, 2003
Oct. 13, 2003

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Oct. 13, 2003

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Same Old Story John Huston is the latest all-too-familiar winner in a tedious season

You probably didn't notice, but John Huston won the Southern
Farm Bureau Classic on Sunday, earning the right to call himself
the 73rd-best player in golf. (The other 72 had played their way
into the glitzy American Express Championship.) It was the
seventh victory of Huston's 16-year career, but the first since
taking another second-tier event, the 2000 Tampa Bay Classic.
While reinvigorating his career, sort of, Huston threw into sharp
relief what is wrong with this PGA Tour season, the most blah in
recent memory: Like a weekly screening of Groundhog Day, it's a
numbing overdose of the familiar.

This is an article from the Oct. 13, 2003 issue

Huston, 42, is the latest old standby to hog the headlines, as he
became the record 11th fortysomething to win a tournament this
year. Sports thrives on the promise of youth, and golf, with its
abundance of graying journeymen, especially needs new blood. The
Southern Farm Bureau is equivalent to Triple A baseball, and
who's a more intriguing story, Nuke LaLoosh or Crash Davis? A
young player could have launched a career last week at Annandale
Golf Club in Madison, Miss., creating a little buzz in an
otherwise static end-of-the-year slog. Fans are certainly primed
for some fresh faces after last season's ad campaign featuring a
handful of so-called young guns. This season those supposed
pistols have been mostly shooting blanks--Charles Howell (24th on
the money list) has been solid enough, but David Gossett (82nd),
Luke Donald (86th), Matt Kuchar (175th) and Ty Tryon (199th) have
been outfoxed and overmatched by the plodding veterans who thrive
on the increasingly extreme course setups. Like Huston, aging
warriors J.L. Lewis, Kirk Triplett and Bob Tway have all
prevailed in recent weeks playing numbingly effective
point-to-point golf.

While these members of the Tour proletariat have risen up on a
regular basis, the year's other dominant trend has been the high
level of play among a core group of elite players. It has been
satisfying to watch these stars shine, but eight multiple winners
in one year only adds to the redundancy. A taut player of the
year race is supposed to be the consolation, but three of the
five candidates--Jim Furyk, Davis Love III and Mike Weir--are
sputtering to the finish line, having collectively failed to
finish better than 10th since the start of September. A fourth
candidate, Vijay Singh, had a chance to make a commanding case at
the AmEx but laid an egg on Sunday. His playing partner, Tiger
Woods, swept to his Tour-leading fifth victory of the year,
though none have come in the tournaments that matter most to him,
the majors. He wasn't a factor on Sunday at any of the Grand Slam
events, and each of their TV ratings was down from 2002.

Even with his five wins, Woods's legend has been downsized this
year, and his workmanlike victory at the AmEx was a case in
point. In the old days Woods demoralized the opposition with
transcendent shots, whether stiffing an approach in the dark to a
green illuminated only by the cigarette lighters of fans, or
flushing an impossible six-iron out of the sand over water to
prevail on the 72nd hole. At the AmEx he did just enough to eke
out a win, his victory march more of a limp because of bogeys on
three of the final five holes.

Woods's closing two-over 72 may not have been pretty, but at
least it rated a spot on TV. The Farm Bureau was banished from
the airwaves altogether. We hear that Huston hit some great shots
coming down the stretch, birdieing three of the final four holes
to beat Brenden Pappas by a stroke. On second thought, maybe it
was no big deal that there was no telecast. A low-wattage vet
like Huston winning? We've seen it all before.

COLOR PHOTO: ROGELIO SOLIS/AP (HUSTON) CROP DUSTER A final-round 68 carried Huston to a one-shot win over Pappas at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic.COLOR PHOTO: AMOS NACHOUM/CORBIS (SHARK)COLOR PHOTO: CARL & ANN PURCELL/CORBIS (CONDOR)COLOR PHOTO: TOM WAGNER/CORBIS SABA (ROBOT)COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT & LINDA MOSTYN/CORBIS (KIWI)COLOR PHOTO: SCOTT HALLERAN/GETTY IMAGES (WILLIAMS)

TRUST ME

Martha Burk notwithstanding, the lack of reaction to the Augusta
membership of John Reed, the interim chief of the New York Stock
Exchange, shows how little traction the issue now has.

THE NEW MATH
Steve Williams wins his 100th tournament

(GREG NORMAN + RAY FLOYD + TIGER WOODS) x NEW ZEALAND = [STEVE
WILLIAMS]