There was no escaping golf in 1998. Not on television, not even
on Ally McBeal. "There's more to life than being a lawyer,"
Calista Flockhart's quirky title character (right) philosophizes
in one episode, "and I don't mean golf." She apparently doesn't
mean between-meal snacks, either.
There was also no escape at the movies. In Armageddon, the
thriller in which the Earth is on a collision course with a
killer asteroid, Bruce Willis pounds drives (lefthanded) from a
grass mat on an offshore oil rig, peppering a circling ship of
Greenpeace protesters. When a shot clangs off the deck, one
cowering tree-hugger whines, "Hey, that was close!" as Willis
smugly chuckles. That scene was an omen. A real meteorite just
missed hitting a maintenance man playing a round at Doon Valley
Golf Club in Kitchener, Ont. Scientists were so thrilled by the
find that they rewarded the man with a season's pass to a nearby
course. Just one problem, complained the golfer, who had also
been struck by lightning while playing: "I'm having trouble
getting someone to join me."
Golf could be found in the international news too--during a food
shortage in Indonesia hungry farmers armed with hoes and axes
chased golfers off a green and turned the putting surface into a
vegetable garden--and on the business pages, where it was
reported that Microsoft's Bill Gates made the ultimate faux pas,
ordering up a membership to Augusta National as if he were
asking for a cheeseburger. Also, after Gates and singer Celine
Dion appeared in Callaway ads, the clubmaker's stock sank faster
than you-know-what, Leonardo.
Other sports could not escape golf's long reach, either. In some
circles the length of the NBA lockout is being measured by the
number of rounds played by Michael Jordan. Don't, however, ask
Green Bay Packers coach Mike Holmgren what he thinks about golf.
Holmgren declared the game off-limits for the golf-happy Packers
before the '97 Super Bowl, which they won easily. Before this
year's Super Bowl, Holmgren relented and okayed hitting practice
balls. Oh, well, all golfers know what it's like to leave their
game on the range.
Best Senior moment. Gay Brewer's first-round 72 in tough
conditions at the Masters. "I thought they had put his age on
the scoreboard. I was waiting for HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GAY," said
Steve Elkington. Unrelated fact: Golf will be included in the
2002 Gay Games.
Most original excuse. Phil Mickelson, battling a cold, explaining
a mediocre round, "I may have overdone it with the Sudafed."
Notable cameo. Payne Stewart's appearance in an episode of Home
Improvement. Unrelated fact: Stewart later put his Orlando
mansion, featuring six bedrooms, an elevator and an indoor
putting green, up for sale for $7.5 million.
Worst defense. Miguel Angel Martin at the Heineken Classic.
Martin, who made a fuss when he was dropped from the '97
European Ryder Cup team, didn't show up for the Classic, which
he had won the year before. "He's no great loss," said
tournament manager Rod Leembruggen. "He's won only twice in 18
years, and that's a long time between drinks."
Best anecdote. A tale from Nick Price: An unidentified British
caddie arrived in Australia for a tournament, but when an
immigration official asked if he had a criminal record, the
caddie replied, "I didn't know I still needed one to get in."
Footnote: The caddie was denied entry.
Best ad we didn't see. Classic at a classic: A house with a
tall, cylinder-shaped center overlooks Royal Birkdale. Coca-Cola
offered its owner 80,000[pounds] to rent it for the British Open
and planned to decorate the center as a Coke can. The owner said
no, and turned down a six-figure follow-up offer.
WHO AM I?
Match each statement with the correct name.
1. The day after I pitched a perfect game, I holed a 45-foot chip
for eagle in a Connecticut charity outing.
2. I was one under par on the 14th tee at Atlanta's White Columns
Golf Club when I heard I had been elected to the Hall of Fame.
3. I shot 81 in a windy, rainy first round and--guess what?--still
won the tournament.
4. I made nine birdies, an eagle and a hole in one while shooting
a 59 (above) but didn't win the tournament.
5. I shot a 59, too, and all I got was a tie for second and a
6. In our hit song, One Week, we sing about LeAnn Rimes, Chinese
chicken, Aquaman, Kurosawa films and golf: "Gonna get a set o'
better clubs./Gonna find the kind with tiny nubs./Just so my
irons aren't always flying off the backswing."
7. I can't believe I finished 13th on the Presidents Cup points
list for the second straight time. I came up $26,000 short,
which I would've made at the no-cut World Series of Golf except
I was disqualified for waiting too long for a putt to drop.
8. Despite playing in 34 Tour events this year, I missed the top
125 and exempt status by $4,204 after double-bogeying the
next-to-last hole of the last tournament. Ouch.
9. I thought I had the Kroger Senior Classic sewed up until the
scoreboard on the last hole said, SOSA 61. I thought, Who the
devil is Sosa? Turns out I didn't have to worry about his
winning. He's a Cub.
10. I testified against Casey Martin and the use of carts (even
though I appear in ads for E-Z-Go). When I met Casey at the U.S.
Open, I wished him good luck and muttered, "Sorry about that
a. Doug Dunakey
b. Jack Nicklaus
c. P.H. Horgan III
d. Barenaked Ladies
e. David Wells
f. Don Sutton
g. Lee Janzen
h. Hugh Baiocchi
i. Sherri Steinhauer
j. Notah Begay
Answers: 1-e; 2-f; 3-i; 4-j; 5-a; 6-d; 7-g; 8-c; 9-h; 10-b.
Fred Funk, Tom Kite, Fanny Sunesson: Former eyeglass-wearers,
they corrected their vision with laser surgery.
Loren Roberts, Tom Lehman, Mark Calcavecchia: Roberts broke a
rib sneezing. Lehman (left) injured his right shoulder when he
slipped on a carnival ride. Calcavecchia cut a finger before the
final round of the Honda Classic but closed the wound with
superglue and won the tournament.
British Open. Mark O'Meara wins a second major, this one in a
playoff with Brian Watts, who pulls off the shot of the year by
saving par from a greenside bunker on the 72nd hole.
U.S. Women's Open. Se Ri Pak wins, but amateur Jenny
Chuasiriporn steals the show, holing a monster putt on the final
green to force an 18-hole playoff.
Masters. O'Meara's breakthrough win comes on a dramatic birdie on
the final hole as he outduels Fred Couples and David Duval.
Callaway. Earnings were down 84%, the workforce was cut by 24%,
and Steelhead woods are smaller and cheaper.
Andy Garcia. He won the 1997 Pebble Beach Pro-Am with an 18
handicap, so officials lowered his number to 11 in '98.
Florida Marlins pitcher Livan Hernandez's high-priced wheels.
Hernandez traded his Ferrari for a less expensive Mercedes
because his golf clubs didn't fit in the Ferrari's trunk.
Nick Faldo's entourage. Faldo parted with David Leadbetter and
girlfriend Brenna Cepelak, who reportedly used a nine-iron to
leave a lasting impression on Nick's Porsche.
The Still Haven't Won a Major Club. Mark O'Meara's wins left
David Duval, Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie as the most
John Huston's career. Huston cut 2.16 strokes off his average
score, moved from 141st to 10th in earnings and smashed a
43-year-old scoring record in one of his two wins.
Augusta National. The Lords of Augusta added 25 yards to the 2nd
hole and a forest of trees to the 15th in an attempt to make the
world's most expansive course a bigger challenge.
The fame of South Korea's Se Ri Pak. Pak went from potential star
to superstar with four wins, two of them majors.
Lawyer's fees. The USGA's decision to limit the so-called
trampoline effect of clubs could mean a legal war with equipment
Hale Irwin's reputation as the Man on the Senior tour. He won
seven times, a record $2.86 million and finished in the top five
in 20 of 22 events. His two-year total: 16 wins and $5.2 million.
CELEBRITY TEST IQ
1. Sylvester Stallone was temporarily suspended from La Gorce
Country Club in Miami Beach for:
b. Shooting down a Russian helicopter with a crossbow.
c. Driving his cart too close to the greens.
d. Failing to rake a bunker.
2. A caddie at Elmwood (N.Y.) Country Club filed a $155 million
lawsuit against Michael Douglas because:
a. Douglas hit the caddie in the groin with a shot.
b. Douglas failed to tip.
c. Douglas refused to read the caddie's screenplay.
d. The caddie was fired after Douglas claimed he was given
3. On avid golfer Tea Leoni's first date with future husband
David Duchovny of The X-Files:
a. She beat him in a $10 Nassau at Riviera.
b. They watched Caddyshack.
c. He tested her genes to make sure she wasn't an alien.
d. He removed her jeans to make sure she wasn't an alien.
4. National Lampoon announced a movie project titled:
a. Golf Punks, in which a washed-up pro teaches ragtag kids how
b. Seven Course Vacation, in which a bumbling Chevy Chase and his
family spend four days and three nights terrorizing Myrtle Beach.
c. Grumpy Old Pros, in which Happy Gilmore joins the Senior tour
and beheads Chi Chi Rodriguez, among others, with an updated
version of the sword routine.
d. Texas Chainsaw Golfer, in which a frustrated high-handicapper
stalks Hooters tour players.
5. During their home run race this summer, Mark McGwire and Sammy
Sosa (left) agreed to:
a. Square off in a $1 million long-drive contest.
b. Work on their short games.
c. Build a course in the Dominican Republic.
d. Wear their cups when they play with Michael Douglas.
6. Former President George Bush (left) is a member of:
a. Valderrama Golf Club.
b. Who's Who.
c. The Who.
d. The Golf Nuts Society.
7. The trendy quiz show Win Ben Stein's Money presented a golf
question under this category heading:
a. I prefer a stiff shaft.
b. Balata yadda yadda.
c. Real men wear plaid.
d. Playing golf makes my putts look bigger.
8. Singer-songwriter Dan Bern's latest CD includes a song titled:
a. The Ballad of Se Ri Pak.
b. Ben Wright's Been All Wrong.
c. I'm Gonna Omar Uresti All Night Long.
d. Tiger Woods.
Answers: 1-c; 2-a; 3-b; 4-a; 5-c; 6-a; 7-d; 8-d.
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATIONS BY JEFF WONG [Drawing of Calista Flockhart kicking golf club]
COLOR PHOTO: SCOTT K. BROWN [Notah Begay holding golf ball labelled "59"]
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATIONS BY JEFF WONG [Drawing of Tom Lehman falling off amusement park ride]
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATIONS BY JEFF WONG [Drawing of Ernie Els lifting barbells with mugs of beer for weights, as caddie looks on]
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK [George Bush after swinging golf club]
COLOR PHOTO: DARREN CARROLL [Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa during game]
"It's like a cancer. I'm a sinking ship. Most people are scared
to death to play with me."
--Chip Beck before he ended his string of 46 missed cuts at the
Greater Milwaukee Open
"Maybe you should forget the gym and get back on the beer."
--Caddie Ricci Roberts to Ernie Els, who has been bothered by a