Truth or Treason?
It was jarring to see Arnold Palmer, amid blaring rock music and
a glitzy light show, stand up at a Callaway press conference on
Oct. 18 in Carlsbad, Calif., and endorse the company's new
driver, even though the USGA has banned the club, the ERC II.
Here was the game's most trustworthy figure, and a USGA
spokesman, preaching what sounded like heresy. Next to Palmer sat
master marketer Ely Callaway, dressed to the nines, looking like
the devil as played by Ray Walston in Damn Yankees. Palmer
recently signed a 12-year endorsement contract with Callaway,
which according to one insider is substantially less than $1
million a year but, in the bargain, helped him divest himself of
his unprofitable company. Clearly Palmer had sold his soul.
Except, as Palmer explained with confidence and conviction, he
really hadn't. When asked how he could be inflexible on one
rule--Palmer says Casey Martin should not be allowed to ride a
cart on Tour--then thumb his nose at another by endorsing a
nonconforming piece of equipment, Palmer didn't flinch.
"[Tournament and recreational] golf are two different games," he
said. "This club is not a threat to the integrity of the game."
That Palmer loves golf and would never do anything to hurt the
game is indisputable. He loves tournament golf best, but what he
plays more often are friendly competitions with friends at
Latrobe, at Bay Hill or near his new digs at the Tradition, a
club in La Quinta, Calif. In those games Palmer will carry 20 or
more clubs, offer and accept the occasional mulligan, and swing
from the heels with the hottest driver he can get his hands on.
In short, the King doesn't play by the rules. The majority of
Americans, he says, don't either. Big deal.
Palmer may be the national chairman of the USGA's members
program, but he has never fit the association's blue-blood image.
He will be better remembered as a man of the people who
popularized an elitist game. Palmer respects the rules but says
having fun is more important than slavishly following them. "The
USGA should help people enjoy the game," he says. He's also aware
that many golfers disagree with his position.
"Arnold knew he was going to anger some of his friends at the
USGA by doing this," says Charlie Mechem, the former LPGA
commissioner who is Palmer's friend and business adviser, "but
it's simple. He likes the product and thinks it's good for the
game." No one who knows Palmer doubts his sincerity. Says USGA
executive director David Fay, "Arnold Palmer does not sell out.
That is a contradiction in terms."
However, Fay and others believe that the view offered by Callaway
and Palmer--that the USGA should not discourage golfers from using
nonconforming equipment--is a recipe for anarchy. If clubs like
the ERC II are accepted for recreational play, when does their
use violate the rules? During rounds that count toward a
USGA-sanctioned handicap? During a club tournament? During a $2
match among friends? The answer, Callaway and Palmer contend, is
simple: Whenever the game is being played under the rules.
Up until the mid-1970s in the U.S., the smaller British ball was
tolerated in casual rounds but banned from competition. There's
no reason that the same guidelines can't apply to nonconforming
clubs. That's why Palmer, even as he appeared to be rocking the
boat, was so confident. He knew he wasn't betraying the game.
Nothing has really changed.
Deaf Q Schooler
His shots produce a special sound, the kind that separates good
players from bad. But Sung Man Lee, the 20-year-old from South
Korea who made it through the first stage of the PGA Tour's Q
school last week, wouldn't know. He's deaf.
Lee's parents didn't realize that their son was disabled until he
was two, when his father, Kangkun Lee, kept honking the car horn
and Sung Man did not respond. "We were surprised," Kangkun says.
"We thought he was normal in every way."
They tried to provide Sung Man with a normal childhood in
Ch'onan, a city of 330,000 about 50 miles southwest of Seoul. He
went to a public school and, instead of sign language, learned to
read lips. Sung Man, though, found the hearing world a difficult
fit. Then, when he was eight, he went with his parents to the
golf course, and his life was transformed. "Golf gave me
freedom," he says.
Soon Sung Man was hitting 2,000 balls a day, watching tapes of
Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Sung Man broke 90 when he was
nine and won his first tournament a year later. Golf became his
After Sung Man won the 1998 Korea Amateur, Kangkun knew his son
needed stiffer competition, so last fall he and his wife, Sook
Hie, brought Sung Man to the U.S., where he's been competing on
the mini-tours. With Sook Hie as his caddie, Lee, who failed to
get past the first stage of Q school last fall, won at New Bern,
N.C., on the Triangle Golf Tour in April and made the fields of
this season's Shell Houston Open and Reno-Tahoe Open via Monday
qualifying, although he missed the cut in both tournaments.
Last week, at La Purisima Golf Course in Lompoc, Calif., Lee shot
a two-over 290 to place 13th in a field of 76 and secure a spot
in the second stage of Q school. If he clears that hurdle, he'll
move on to the final stage, the grueling six-round event that
begins on Nov. 29 at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif.
His disability protects him from distractions that can rattle
other players. "Some weeks on Tour are like a circus," says Tour
veteran Brandel Chamblee. "You've got to block that stuff out,
but sometimes it gets you. He'll never have to deal with
that." --Michael Arkush
COLOR PHOTO: LENNY IGNELZI/AP Palmer doesn't see anything wrong with pitching Callaway's nonconforming club.
COLOR PHOTO: MICHAEL PRICE
COLOR PHOTO: TONY GOLDEN
COLOR PHOTO: ED BROUSSARD
COLOR PHOTO: JOEY TERRILL Lee's disability is hardly a handicap on the golf course.
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER
Tiger Woods will play in the 2002 Presidents Cup in South Africa.
His performance in the biennial competition will never be part of
his legacy, but Woods will make the trip for three reasons: He
loves match play; he knows that pairings such as last week's with
Notah Begay send an important message to minority golfers; and he
understands that the future of the event rests on his shoulders.
What do these players have in common?
They're the leading money winners among rookies on the LPGA,
Senior and PGA tours, respectively.
Is it fair that U.S. players are expected to play in both the
Presidents and Ryder Cups?
Not Fair 19%
--Based on 2,374 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Do you think Callaway is right or wrong to sell a
club in the U.S. that does not conform to USGA rules? Vote at
SYNONYMS for MISSING THE CUT
Benched, black Friday, breakfast club, busted, cement weasel
suit, down the road, MC Hammer, O-fer, outta here, Samsonite
slide, trunk slamming, unemployed, watching cartoons, whiffed.
For Tour pros battling to finish among the top 125 money list,
the fight ends at next week's Southern Farm Bureau Classic in
Madison, Miss., the last full-field event of the season. Here
are the players on the bubble.
122. Doug Dunakey $382,415
123. Joey Sindelar 381,286
124. Tommy Armour III 376,863
125. Dan Forsman 372,689
126. Pete Jordan 367,680
127. Joe Ozaki 353,816
128. Craig Spence 341,049
Ed Sabo, Tequesta, Fla.
Sabo, 51, shot a record 13-under 275 to win the PGA Senior Club
Pro at Ibis Golf & Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., by 10
strokes. Sabo went five under on the last 10 holes to break the
previous mark of 277 set by Bob Carson in 1993. A teaching pro
at Bear Lakes Country Club, Sabo played on the Tour in the late
Monica Hamilton, East Syracuse, N.Y.
Hamilton, 33, took the Herald-Journal Women's Amateur by seven
strokes with a three-over 146, then two weeks later beat Denise
Broton of Baldwinsville 8 and 7 in the 36-hole final of the
Syracuse Women's District Championship. Hamilton is a counselor
and the girls' basketball coach at Chittenango High in Syracuse.
Mack Duke, Lafayette, La.
Mack, 12, defeated Jesse Speirs of Blue Hill 2 up to clinch the
13-and-under division of the Maine Junior Golf Championship. The
victory, which came four days after his birthday, gave Mack his
fifth title in the 10 state junior events he has played this
year. A sixth-grader, Mack plays on Episcopal School of
Acadiana's golf team.
Submit Faces candidates to golfplus.cnnsi.com/faces.
What Most Impressed Me About Tiger...
Tiger Woods has won three majors and six other tournaments this
year, but it is not his winning alone that has made the biggest
impression on many people within the game. Here's what some golf
insiders have found most memorable about Woods's record-breaking
JACK NICKLAUS Tour pro "Playing with Tiger at the PGA, I noticed
how he played within his capabilities on every shot. He always
played to positions where he wasn't going to get himself into
trouble. He played smart golf, and I was impressed by that."
ARNOLD PALMER Tour pro "With everything expected of him, and with
what he expects of himself, he always kept his composure. Believe
me, that's not easy, especially when you're only 24."
DAVID FAY USGA executive director "I was impressed with the way
he won the PGA. There was such pressure on him, and dueling with
a basically unknown player the last day increased that pressure.
Tiger found a way, capturing the essence of what makes him so
CAROL MANN LPGA Hall of Famer "He's a great analyzer and pays
enormous attention to detail. I think of the extra two hours he
spent on the practice green Wednesday night before the first
round of the U.S. Open. He knew the details of poa annua, how
that grass requires a pure roll, and he put in the work until he
DAN POHL Former Tour pro "That 269-yard two-iron he knocked on
the 16th green [at the NEC Invitational] on Saturday floored me.
I've been on that sidehill lie where his drive was, and to hit a
long iron with that trajectory and hold a firm green is an
ability from another planet. That kind of shot says, 'Guys, I'm
better than you.'"
BRAD FAXON Tour pro "That 15-foot putt he made for par on the
15th hole of the final round [of the PGA] sticks with me the
most. Bob May has a six-footer for birdie, so if Tiger doesn't
hole his putt, that means he's probably three down with three to
go. That putt showed the quality we players most admire."
JIM McLEAN Instructor "After Hal Sutton defeated him at the
Players Championship, Tiger took his hat off and shook his hand.
My impression was he really likes it when someone takes him to
the wall. It was almost like that was more important to him than
JOHN COOK Tour pro "The most amazing thing is, I can't remember
him hitting a shot that wasn't solid. It might go a little left
or right, but he hits absolutely everything in the middle of the