CALLING ALL KARMA
Midway through the final round of last year's Honda Classic,
Mark Calcavecchia decided that the quarter and the nickel he was
carrying were fresh out of putt-makin' mojo. He swapped them for
the three pennies jingling in the pocket of his caddie, Greg
Martin, made three straight birdies and presto, he's the
defending champion at this week's Honda. "It's silly, but what
the heck," Calcavecchia said after his victory. "Maybe it was
Silly? Not really. Superstition is the norm on the PGA Tour. Tom
Weiskopf is a three-coin guy, and so is Jack Nicklaus, who
carries three pennies for good luck. The Golden Bear also
refused to change his lucky olive-green pants while winning the
'62 U.S. Open and used to hum tunes like Moon River repeatedly,
as long as he kept making birdies.
Calcavecchia doesn't bother with the penny ante anymore. "I
tried it again, and it didn't work," he says. "I don't do the
same thing every day."
Calc's quirks may get 86'd after a 76 and replaced after a 66,
but his peers are more loyal to their idiosyncrasies. Justin
Leonard always marks his ball with a quarter that was minted in
the '60s, which, he hopes, translates to scores in the 60s. Mac
O'Grady plays with four black bands wrapped around his
putter--one for every major he hasn't won. Jesper Parnevik once
feared balls marked with the number 3, lest he three-putt. "But
I had a five-shot lead going into the last hole of a
tournament," Parnevik says, "so I played with a 3 just to get
rid of the jinx."
Other golfers are notoriously wardrobe wary. Seve Ballesteros
wore blue trousers on Sundays when he was in contention, for
that's what he wore when he won his first tournament, the '76
Dutch Open. Tiger Woods's final-round finery includes liberal
splashes of red, the color of under-par numbers and also the
preferred Sunday swatch for Lee Trevino and Curtis Strange. Skip
Kendall has a different policy: zero tolerance. If he wears a
shirt once and plays poorly, the garment goes. "I won't even
wear the same style," Kendall says.
Most pros eschew any ball with a number higher than 4. Then
again, Wayne Levi and Tom Kite like high-numbered balls.
Charles Coody always went to bed exactly 12 hours before his tee
time the next day and once held a lost ball marker in such high
regard that he retraced his steps on the course backward in
hopes of finding it.
Nick Price marks his ball with a tails-up coin but will switch
to heads if he's not putting well. For David Toms it's the other
It's hard to make heads or tails of the practices of Senior tour
player Rocky Thompson, who loathes all things seven. He doesn't
carry a seven-iron, and his caddie is told to separate any two
clubs in his bag that add up to seven.
Says Thompson, who also won't park his cart with the wheels
resting on a crack on the path, "You crap out after you make a
FootJoy senior product manager Tim Murphy says his company's
going for the water-cooler effect with those ads featuring a
good-natured pest carrying a tournament scoring standard. "We
want golfers to go to work on Monday and say, 'Did you see that
Sign Boy commercial?'"
The humor in the spots stems from their mainstay's dopey
enthusiasm. Sign Boy, clutching his standard with both hands,
squeezes between Justin Leonard and Phil Mickelson as they
stride up the fairway. "I had a dream last night that the three
of us were finishing in a major," Sign Boy burbles. "Awesome!"
Sign Boy turns and talks to the camera, prompting Davis Love III
to halt his backswing.... Sign Boy scampers around an empty
locker room, reciting from memory the shoe sizes and model
numbers of the players.... Sign Boy whoops at a Jesper Parnevik
drive and yells, "You da Swede!"
"He can't help himself," says Matt Griesser, the actor who plays
the shoe-sniffing superfan. "There's too much excitement."
The spots were scripted by Jamie Graham of Boston's Arnold
Communications and directed by Backyard Productions' Kevin Smith,
who shot so much improvised footage last fall the campaign was
extended from four to eight 30-second spots.
Will the ads sell shoes? Too early to tell. If they do, FootJoy
execs say Sign Boy will remain the Tour's most fixated
fixture. --John Garrity
COLOR PHOTO: BOB MARTIN Better off red When they're among the leaders on Sunday, Woods, Trevino and Strange believe their fire-engine get-ups help them smoke the field.
COLOR PHOTO: JAMES DRAKE
COLOR PHOTO: HEINZ KLUETMEIER
COLOR PHOTO: TIM ROGERS
COLOR PHOTO: JIM SNYDER
COLOR PHOTO: MICHAEL PRICE
What do these players have in common?
They're the only PGA Tour players to make a double-eagle in '99.
Kelly's came at the 14th hole during the Bob Hope Classic,
Tolles's on Tucson's 2nd hole and Raulerson's at Doral's 1st.
Would you like to see Arnold Palmer continue to play a full
schedule on the Senior tour, or should he retire?
Full schedule 51%
--Based on 744 responses to our informal survey
Next question: If you could win only one of the four men's
majors, which would it be? To vote, go to www.cnnsi.com/golf.
Who shines in the Sunshine State? Based on finishes in the '90s,
Doral winner Steve Elkington is among the hottest players during
the four-tournament Florida swing. We awarded five points for a
victory, three for other top five finishes and one for
additional top 10s.
PLAYER FINISHES TOTAL
Greg Norman 4-3-4 33
Mark Calcavecchia 1-7-1 27
Davis Love III 1-5-6 26
Nick Price 2-3-6 25
Fred Couples 3-2-3 24
Steve Elkington 4-1-1 24
Mark O'Meara 1-4-6 23
Nick Faldo 1-4-3 20
Vijay Singh 0-5-2 17
John Huston 2-2-0 16
Loren Roberts 2-1-2 15
Casey Cusack, Anchorage
Casey, 18, won the prestigious Future Collegians World Tour
Cowboy Classic at the Hyatt Bear Creek Golf Club near Dallas by
birdieing the first hole of a playoff against Rodger Brown of
Houston. Casey, an all-state hockey player, won all five events
he entered on Alaska's Junior Tour last summer.
Wendi Keene, Sedona, Ariz.
Keene, 49, the co-owner of Grand Canyon Wild West Tours, was
named the 1998 Golf Nut of the Year by the Golf Nuts Society of
America. Keene is a 14 handicapper playing lefthanded and a 19
handicapper as a righty. Her first book, The Passionate Power of
Golf, is due to be published in June.
Mike San Filippo, Hobe Sound, Fla.
San Filippo, 46, won $15,466 to beat out 251 club pros for the
money title in the PGA of America's 12-event winter tournament
series. An instructor at Nashawtuc Country Club in Concord,
Mass., San Filippo also won the '93 title and was the PGA's Club
Pro Player of the Year.