WHEN TIM FINCHEMcreated the FedEx Cup and the Fall Series, effectively shortening the seasonfor the Tour's best players, he probably envisioned the world's top duffersspending the autumn dropping the kids at school, hitting the range and puttingin quality time with the local United Way. Meanwhile, the rest of the golfuniverse would focus on Walt Disney Resort, where the Tour's also-rans wouldsqueeze in epic battles for their professional lives between gratis trips tothe Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center. What Finchem couldn't have imagined wasthat the new schedule would allow a far-flung tilt called the Barclay'sSingapore Open to upstage the final week of the PGA Tour and the NationwideTour Championship while also stomping on the European tour's finale. With astar-studded field that included Phil Mickelson (right), Ernie Els, Adam Scott,Vijay Singh and K.J. Choi, and a story line spiced with off-the-purse cash,tragedy, catfights, food poisoning and, in the end, a great champion, the Asiantour event turned out to be the week's most entertaining soap opera. Theopening act involved the California wildfires, which forced Mickelson toevacuate his home in Rancho Santa Fe and put his trip to Asia in jeopardy. Whenthe flames subsided, leaving Mickelson's property singed but his house spared,he decided to honor his commitment to the event and his desire to "educatemy children on a more global basis," to say nothing of collecting areported $1 million appearance fee. No sooner had the Phil drama cooled whenColin Montgomerie blasted Els for blowing off the Euro tour's season-endingVolvo Masters to play in Singapore, especially since Els was leading the Orderof Merit. Els responded by blaming the tour for changing the date of the Volvoand telling Monty to keep his fat yap shut, although not in those exact words.In a kind of Monty-zuma's revenge, Els got food poisoning and missed the cut.Meanwhile, Mickelson and his caddie, Jim MacKay, were also fighting some"stomach cramping and headaches," so much so that six holes into thethird round MacKay had to hand the bag off to Mickelson's father-in-law, GaryMcBride, and Lefty himself split without signing autographs or speaking to themedia. He was taken to a doctor, who treated him with antibiotics. Mickelsonand MacKay were back on Sunday but put up a 79 and fell far behind leader AngelCabrera, the reigning U.S. Open champ, who held off a rally by Singh to win histhird straight start (Grand Slam, Argentine Masters). His business complete,Mickelson and many of the others moved on to this week's HSBC Champions inShanghai, where most will hazard authentic Chinese food while countingappearance-fee money. No one needed to tell Finchem that you can't do either ofthose things at EPCOT.
This is an article from the Nov. 12, 2007 issue
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Earnings of Mathias Gronberg, who finished 125th on theTour money list.
A rolling layout with great pedigree on the banks ofLake Erie
WHAT Harbor Golf Club (right)
WHERE Ashtabula, Ohio
COST $2.4 million
HOOK The original nine holes were designed by W.H.(Bertie) Way, a transplanted British pro who finished second in the 1899 U.S.Open. As a designer Way was best known for the South course at FirestoneCountry Club.
FRINGE BENEFIT Across the road lies Lake Erie, whichwill never be confused with the Irish Sea but gives the place a linksyatmosphere.
"In two years some other clown will be incharge." —MY SHOT, PAGE G24
After turning pro at 17 and then missing the cut in his first 21 starts, Justin Rose, 24, took the European tour's 2007 Order of Merit by winning the Volvo Masters at Valderrama in a playoff.