Fly-fishing buddies Nick Faldo and Huey Lewis were serious about their golf at Pebble Beach—an obvious reflection of Faldo's grim-faced influence on the constantly smiling rock-and-roller. "We have a team motto," Lewis said. "We're not out here to have a good time. This is all business."
Apparently it was. Faldo and Lewis were among the pro-am leaders throughout the tournament and finished tied for sixth, seven strokes back of winners Bruce Vaughan and Masashi Yamada.
Faldo and Lewis met in 1992 at a Lewis concert in London. They played golf the next day near Faldo's home in Wentworth and have since fished at Lewis's Montana ranch. "I hate to ruin his reputation, but he's really a good guy," Lewis said of Faldo last Friday. "And he's flat funny." Faldo semiagreed. "That's me," he said.
Lewis, whose primary residence is north of San Francisco in the Marin County town of Ross, entered the tournament with a 15 handicap but ended up improving his and Faldo's team score by 21 strokes. Faldo was nine under on his own ball. "There are worse sandbaggers in this tournament than me," said Lewis, who had tried to persuade the handicap committee to give him only 14 strokes. Noting that Bill Murray was getting 18 strokes, he said, "Have you seen his swing?"
When Tom Watson opened with a pair of 67s at the Phoenix Open two weeks ago, he looked like the Tom Watson of old. A pitiful putter in recent years, in Phoenix Watson gave much of the credit to the Ram "Little Z" putter he was using. "When I was a kid," he said, "I putted with a brass-headed putter—a PG150—and I made everything with it. This is bringing me back to my childhood."
But two poor putting rounds on the weekend at Phoenix brought that second childhood to a close and led Watson to change putters. In the AT&T he used a Tad Moore blade, and except for one throwback round at Spyglass Hill in which he shot 65 with only 25 putts, he performed like the Tom Watson whose flat-stick woes have become all too familiar.
"I took 12 putters to Florida recently and brought back three," Watson said on Friday. "They all have different characteristics. When I go from one to another, it's like going from a blonde to a redhead to a brunette. You wouldn't go from a blonde to a blonde. I used a brunette."
The brunette was not kind to Watson in the opening round at Poppy Hills. He three-putted three times, four-putted once. He still shot 70, though, and so remained faithful. Friday was Watson's good day, but on Saturday at Pebble Beach he was jilted. Missing two putts inside three feet, Watson went from 12 under and a tie for the lead to eight under and five shots back. Sunday brought more rejection. The lone bright spot in the day was a chip-in for birdie at the 16th. He finished with a 72 and a tie for 13th.
Next time out, Watson may be dating the redhead. And what model might that be, Tom?
"A red Zebra."
A Stricken Friend
Missing from the AT&T last week was Donnie Wanstall, Mark O'Meara's longtime regular caddie and his looper during two of his four Pebble Beach wins ('90 and '92). Wanstall stopped caddying last March when he became ill at The Players Championship, and a month later he learned he had multiple sclerosis. He watched this year's AT&T from his home in Atlantic Beach, Fla.
"It's killing me not to be there," Wanstall said. "That's my favorite spot in the world, not only because of the success I've had there, but because it's beautiful. There's something about it. Pebble Beach is golf, the Monterey Peninsula is golf, and obviously my boss liked it there."
Last fall O'Meara founded the Pro Caddies Assistance Foundation to help Wanstall and other loopers cover medical expenses. An auction and a pro-am he organized yielded $150,000 for the foundation. Wanstall, 45, just started receiving disability checks. "Financially, I couldn't have gotten through this thing without Mark," he says.
Having experimented with one-handed putting in practice and in three tournaments over the past five years, Mike Hulbert gave it a go during the last two rounds of the AT&T, shooting a 68 on Saturday at Spyglass with 28 putts and a 74 at Pebble on Sunday with 29 putts.
"My thinking was, I haven't been making any putts," says Hulbert, who finished tied for 105th in putting on the PGA Tour last year and had shot 71-72 in the first two rounds of the AT&T with 31 and 30 putts, respectively. "I putt real good with the grip, so I made up my mind that I was going to do it here. I'm much more confident putting this way. I see the line better, I take the putter back lower, and I stay real steady over it. Any of the sports psychologists would say 'Hey, if you can hit if off the toe of your putter and it's going in the hole, go with it.' "
The Bush Whacker
Battling a case of the chip yips, George Bush went to Pebble Beach intent on using a long-shafted Black Cat pitching wedge rigged by Houston Country Club teaching pro Paul Marchand. But one look at that contraption by partner Hale Irwin during a practice round at Cypress Point persuaded the former president to ditch the invention. "I told him I'd rather see it disappear," Irwin said. "One long club in a bag is too much. Two would be impossible."
Bush was getting 20 strokes, but that wasn't enough to help him and Irwin. They missed the team cut by 12. "President Bush is playing neither good nor terrible," said Irwin, practicing diplomacy. "He enjoys it, but he's frustrated."
Bush hasn't given up on the long wedge. "I've got to go back and work with Marchand on the thing," he said. "It doesn't have quite enough weight in the head, and besides, when I tried it, I started doing the same thing I did with the short chipper, jabbing at it."
At the AT&T, Stanford All-America golfer Notah Begay III caddied for IMG senior vice president Hughes Norton, whose playing partner was IMG client David Duval. Meanwhile, Begay's Cardinal teammate Conrad Ray carried the bag of Alastair Johnston, the head of IMG's golf division. Think Norton and Johnston might have been on a recruiting mission? We'll see which firm represents these golfers if they turn pro.
Ever since he came back from his four-month "voluntary" leave from the PGA Tour in early January, John Daly has insisted his life is more stable. But is it?
Daly has played in four Tour events this year, missing the cut twice, finishing 20th in a field of 30 at the Mercedes Championships and pocketing just $20,333. Two weeks ago he jetted to Las Vegas, where he married Paulette Dean, who became his third wife, in a wedding chapel called the Little Church of the West. Two days later he flew to Perth, Australia, to compete in the Heineken Classic, the first of three straight tournaments he's playing Down Under for a reported $380,000 in appearance fees.
The wear and tear of Daly's frenetic lifestyle obviously caught up with him in Perth. He played horribly, shooting 80-76-156 to miss the cut by nine strokes. Trevor Grant, a writer for the Melbourne Herald-Sun, called Daly's first round one "of overwhelming ugliness."
The event's organizers were more sympathetic. "It was an expensive flop," said tournament director Tony Roosenberg, who paid Daly $150,000 even though the purse was only $305,000. "But John gave the tournament a great deal of free publicity." And with nowhere to go, Daly also gave the event a weekend of chumming with sponsors, signing autographs and giving long-drive exhibitions.
This week Daly is scheduled to play in a skins game in Proserpine, Queensland, and then he's off to Melbourne for the Australian Masters. "Focus is something I needed to work on," Daly said in Perth. "But I've started a whole new career."
While Faldo (far left) and Lewis are fast friends, Watson (below) is on the outs with his putters.
For the last two days of the AT&T, Hulbert was single-minded, and single-handed, about his putting.
Wanstall, now sidelined with MS, helped O'Meara win the AT&T in '90 and '92 (above).