RETURN OF THE SHARK
Five years ago Greg Norman stormed off the course at the
Tournament Players Club at Eagle Trace after shooting 77 in the
third round of the Honda Classic, then dumped all over the
venue, calling it a "Mickey Mouse course" and "carnival golf."
He vowed never again to set foot on it, which was one of the
reasons the tournament was moved. So guess who plans to show up
this week when the Honda, in a bind for a tournament site,
returns to Eagle Trace? The Shark, of course.
Some speculated that Norman entered to meet a condition in his
contract to design a TPC course near Atlanta that will host the
1997 BellSouth Classic, but that deal was signed two years ago,
and both Norman and the Tour deny any quid pro quo. The real
reason for his return is much simpler: The event is convenient
to his home in Hobe Sound, Fla., and since he must play at least
15 tournaments, why not enter those within commuting distance?
Although Honda officials are thrilled with Norman's presence,
they were clearly not expecting him to return. Cliff Danley, the
tournament's executive director, thought a friend was playing a
joke on him when Norman called to commit. "There are a lot of
factors in scheduling," Danley says, "but obviously we're happy
to have him whatever the reason. Maybe it was just our time."
Norman, who last month inspected Eagle Trace from the air while
flying back and forth to the Miami boat show, is willing to let
bygones be bygones.
"Sometimes you say things that you shouldn't say and don't
really mean," he says. "In my younger days I might have been a
little brash. Obviously I don't hold a grudge."
We'll see if that remains the case next year when the Honda
moves to the TPC at Heron Bay, designed by Mark McCumber, whom
Norman accused of cheating at last year's NEC World Series of
Golf. "Just because McCumber designed the golf course doesn't
mean I'm going to cut off my nose to spite my face," Norman
says. "That has no bearing on my playing there."
One week after the fact, Don Pooley and Neal Lancaster were
still seeing red over an incident involving Mark Wiebe during
the final round of the Nissan Open.
Playing as a threesome in the last group, Pooley, Lancaster and
Wiebe fell too far behind the group ahead and received a warning
for slow play. Fearing a two-stroke penalty, Pooley tried to
pick up the pace by leaving the 9th green before Wiebe, a
notoriously deliberate player, had putted out. Wiebe confronted
Pooley on the 10th tee. "I made my putt," he said sarcastically,
implying that Pooley had left before he should have. "I know you
made your putt," Pooley snapped back. "I'm keeping your
At the time, Pooley was six under, in contention and coming off
a birdie at the 9th. But he double-bogeyed the 12th and bogeyed
13, 14, 15 and 18 to shoot 42 on the back and fall to 17th.
Lancaster, the third-round leader, shot 41 coming home to finish
16th. Wiebe wound up tied for second at five under, one shot
behind winner Craig Stadler.
"The guy was way out of line," Pooley said. "He made a comment
that changed the momentum of my play. I don't want it to sound
like sour grapes, but it shouldn't have happened."
Lancaster agreed. "You don't want to make excuses, but I
couldn't believe Mark said that to Don. It definitely affected
Don's game. A lot of it was because Mark wasn't playing well at
the time. It hit Don wrong, and it should have. Mark should have
never said it."
BETTOR DAYS AHEAD
Dan Stojak returned from caddie purgatory last week and was back
on the bag of Loren Roberts. Roberts fired Stojak last October
after Stojak was accused of placing a $1,000 bet, at 4-to-1
odds, on Europe in the Ryder Cup. Though Stojak initially
acknowledged making the wager, he now insists he never placed a
"Why would I bet $1,000 to make $4,000 and lose a
$140,000-a-year job?" Stojak says, referring to his percentage
of Roberts's winnings. "That just doesn't make any sense. If I
were putting up $50,000 and it was paying $250,000, then maybe
we could say that I was giving bad advice. But I would never
think of doing that. This is my career. I need this to support
In the Ryder Cup, Stojak helped club Roberts to a 3-1 record and
was out in the rain shuttling dry towels to team members on
Friday morning when his player and some of the other caddies
were dry in the clubhouse.
Most of the other caddies never questioned Stojak's loyalties.
"Two things tell me he wanted us to win in the worst way," says
Jim Mackay, who caddies for Phil Mickelson. "First is the way he
reacted when Loren chipped in on the 9th hole Friday afternoon.
And second is the way he reacted when Corey Pavin chipped in on
Saturday. Both times he went nuts. You don't fake that."
For his part Roberts, who was nicknamed Boss of the Moss by
Stojak, is ready to forgive and forget. "The thing really took
on a life of its own last year," he says. "We talked about it in
the off-season and had planned for him to come back in Florida.
He's back and everything's fine. Obviously he and I have done
well together. It was an unfortunate situation, and I still
don't know exactly what happened, but it's history. He tried as
hard as everybody did at the Ryder Cup. All's forgiven, and
we'll move on."
While the Shark was gobbling up the Blue Monster, the field's
minnows were almost embroiled in a fishing controversy. One of
the most hotly contested prizes every year at Doral is the free
room--as if these guys can't afford to pay--given to the winner of
a fishing contest held on the resort's property.
Andy Bean thought he had it won when his bass weighed in at 4 3/4
pounds, but after he had left, officials realized that his fish
had been weighed on the wrong scale and that Blaine McAllister's
lunker was actually two ounces heavier. With the wisdom of
Solomon, officials declared co-winners and picked up the tab for
The normally quick-tempered Mark Calcavecchia came into the new
season claiming he had reinvented himself. He put that assertion
to the test during the third round at Doral when he made a
far-from-perfect 10 on the par-5 10th hole.
Afterward you could have mistaken Calc for Fuzzy Zoeller. "Hey,
it was a good 10," he said. "I got a sand save out of it."
Raymond Floyd's restoration of Doral's Blue Monster has not yet
begun, but it can't start soon enough to please Jack Nicklaus.
"I liked the course the way it was before, not the way it is
now, overseeded with rye grass," says Nicklaus, who has played
in 34 of the 35 Doral tournaments, missing only in 1970, the
year his father died. "This isn't Florida golf. It's not the way
I want to see Doral."
Not to worry, Jack. Next month Floyd will rip out all the rye
and reseed with Bermuda, just the way you like it. "The overseed
was needed because the grasses are so old and outdated," says
Floyd. "It would be ugly on television if they didn't do that,
but that isn't the way the course was meant to be played."
THE SHORT GAME
Joe Collet, the former business manager of Seve Ballesteros, has
been traveling the globe trying to put together sponsorship for
the latest version of an international golf tour. Collet was at
Doral updating players and hoped to meet this week with Tour
commissioner Tim Finchem.... Still trying to fight his way out
of a slump, Ryder Cup captain Tom Kite spent much of last week
working at the Jim McLean Learning Center. "I'm inconsistent
right now, but that's better than being consistently bad," Kite
says.... David Feherty's tryout as a commentator with CBS at
Doral was a success, but the network has no plans to use him at
the Masters. Feherty teamed with Gary McCord in the tower at the
16th hole. "That's a recipe for disaster," Feherty said before
going on the air.
COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHS BY JACQUELINE DUVOISIN Wiebe's playing partners were bent out of shape about what he said during the final round in L.A. [Mark Wiebe]
COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHS BY JACQUELINE DUVOISIN Feherty (right) and McCord cut it up at 16. [Gary McCord and David Feherty]
COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHS BY JACQUELINE DUVOISIN If Stojak were a betting man, would he have congratulated Pavin after his winning chip? [Dan Stojak and Corey Pavin]