ALL RIGHT, we're back on-line here discussing Lee Janzen's
thrilling victory last Sunday at The Players Championship.
Divot: Wait a second. You're going to cover a golf tournament
Exactly. And what a golf tournament it wasn't. It was more like a
Salute to Bogey. Janzen's five-under 283 equaled the highest
winning score since they started playing the tournament at the
gruesome Stadium Course at Sawgrass, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.,
13 years ago. It may have been the scariest golf played here since
the Worst Avid Golfer in America contest in 1985.
All Corey Pavin had to do on the last day was shoot 71. (He shot
74.) All Bernhard Langer had to do was shoot a 71. (He shot 73.)
All Payne Stewart had to do was shoot 70 to tie. (He shot 72.) All
Lee Janzen had to do was shoot 71 to win. (And that's just what he
Froghair: How did John Daly do?
Didn't play. Says it wrecks his confidence for the Masters coming
up. But 36 of the top-36 players in the world were here. Actually,
a lot of players might've wished they'd been sitting around
Germantown, Tenn., with Daly instead. Nick Price came to the
famous island-green, par-3 17th hole on Saturday only four shots
out of the lead and made a quadruple-bogey 7. His first ball spun
back into the water, and his next, from the drop area 85 yards
from the hole, missed the green entirely.
And Greg Norman made a 6 on number 17 on Friday and never
recovered, finishing 37th. Not only that, but he continued to take
grief for his DOA World Tour and got nowhere with his request at a
players' meeting to change the rule so that you could get a free
drop out of a divot. That was --
Overclub: Wait a second. You sayin' he wanted to change the
dad-burned Rules of Golf?
Just for this one tournament. It seems that they fill the divots
in with sand, and he would much rather hit out of a plain divot
than a sandy --
BigBertha: Wasn't he involved in that ridiculous thing in South
Africa last month?
Well, yes. He and Price agreed to give each other lengthy par
putts in the Alfred Dunhill Challenge in Johannesburg, but that
was merely to --
Dimples: What's he want next? Circle 6s?
Shanksalot: Maybe free drops out of lakes?
I don't think so, although Nick Faldo might think about it. Faldo,
the London bookies' 7-to-1 favorite to win the Masters next week,
left two balls for the alligators at number 17 on Thursday on his
way to a 7. He missed the cut and blamed his opening-round 80 on
whoever put the wrong free golf balls in his locker, balls that
didn't behave the way he wanted. ``It cost me at least six or
seven shots,'' Faldo said.
Velcro: Oh, please.
InTheLeather: Did he consider actually looking at them before he
Mulligan: What does he usually play? Floaters?
If I could just keep going here. Anyway, the thing to keep in
mind is that this place broke a lot of hearts last week, and it
was really Norman's fault. He pillaged the course last year for
a tournament-record 24 under, and so new PGA Tour commissioner
Tim Finchem ordered his troops to narrow the fairways, grow the
rough and cut the greens one notch below Sergeant Carter's
flattop (7/64 of an inch). Then he watered them with an
eyedropper and used up every favor he had at the National
Weather Service to get 25-mph gusts the first three days. The
result was the golfing equivalent of bamboo under fingernails.
The lake at 17 grabbed 58 balls. Playing 17 in the wind was like
trying to land a marble on a waiter's tray from across the Champs
Elysees. On Thursday there were three times as many scores in the
80s as the 60s. For 72 holes Norman finished 30 strokes worse than
NotThere!: This must've pleased this Grinchem guy.
Finchem. Probably. All of which is what made Pavin's opening day
six-under 66 so amazing. Only one person, Phil Mickelson, equaled
it all week. Pavin had a one-shot lead at the end of Thursday, was
tied for the lead with Gene Sauers on Friday, remained tied (with
Langer) on Saturday and then coughed it up by bogeying two of the
first three holes on Sunday. He finished tied for third. If he'd
just put three even-par rounds together with that 66, he would
MegaGolf: Are you ever going to get back to this broken-heart
Oh, right, right. Well, there's Pavin. He still hasn't won a major
or a starter-kit major, but he's in the neighborhood.
Then there's Davis Love III. He still needs a win to qualify for
the Masters, and victory seemed within his reach on Sunday. In
fact, he had a share of the lead when he was standing on --
Plugged: Lemme guess. The 17th? A fixation, perhaps?
Just that it might be the most heartless hole in golf. So Love had
the lead at 17 until he stepped up and double-crossed a nine-iron
into the lake and made a 5. So far this season he has had a tie
for third, a tie for fourth and now a tie for sixth, but they
won't get him to Augusta. ``I should've won this,'' he said
dejectedly afterward. ``I threw away enough shots.''
And then there was Stewart, trying to forget last season, his
worst (123rd on the Tour money list) since he was a rookie, and
the nagging fact that the brilliant career that was supposed to go
double platinum after his 1991 U.S. Open win, didn't. He hasn't
won since then, and he can blame Janzen for that. It was Janzen,
paired with Stewart in the final round at Baltusrol, who stole the
1993 U.S. Open from him with a miraculous chip-in at the 16th.
That sent Stewart spiraling downward. And it was the bubbly Janzen
who showed up to play with Stewart again last Sunday. Have you
ever been followed by a cute, stray puppy that you can't get rid
The two of them were tied for the lead when they got to the 9th
hole on Sunday, but then Janzen rolled in an 18-foot gagger for a
birdie, and Stewart missed a six-foot par putt on the next hole.
Just like that, Stewart was two back. And when Janzen drained a
huge 25-foot par-saver on the 14th and made a gritty six-foot
birdie on 16, Stewart was toast.
That left one last test for Janzen, and it was --
Everybody: The 17th?
Precisely. Janzen chunked a nine-iron that barely found land, the
tiny pot bunker in front, then hit a glorious sand shot to a foot
and made it for his save and his two-shot lead. All that was left
was for Janzen to walk up the 18th fairway and dream of the
$540,000 first prize, which would take him from 79th on the money
list to second.
You said it. And as Janzen and Stewart walked off the final green
-- with Janzen having lifted cash and glory from Stewart's
knickers pocket once again -- Janzen put an arm around him and
bubbled, ``I love playing with you!''
To which Stewart swallowed and replied, ``I'll bet you do.''
Like golf these days, this kid's career is ``on-line.''
Chilidip: That's your ending?
(I'll E-mail you something later.)
COLOR PHOTO:BEN VAN HOOKLots of hopes sank at the 17th, but not those of Janzen, whose gritty par there Sunday left him grinning. [Lee Janzen hitting ball out of sandtrap]COLOR PHOTO:JACQUELINE DUVOISIN (INSET)[Lee Janzen holding trophy and smiling]
COLOR PHOTO:JACQUELINE DUVOISIN Paired with Janzen on Sunday, Stewart had a share of the lead before a bogey on 10 derailed him. [Payne Stewart]