TIME TO GET UP
After a sleepy start the season finally awakens this week
Thanks for your efforts up until now, ladies and gentlemen, but
the real golf season starts this week with the Players
Championship, and it's about time. We've had all the Honda
Classics, Takefuji Classics and Senior Skins Games we can
handle. The Players at TPC at Sawgrass is the gateway to the
major championship season, and March Madness continues the
following week with the Nabisco Championship. The Masters is a
tantalizing three weeks distant. This is what we've been waiting
for, and this is what we've learned during the early season
--Solving the Case of the Shrinking Course may not be as
complicated as previously thought. Bay Hill neutralized all the
new technology simply by firming up its greens to oh-my-God!
levels and growing gnarly rough. The result? Tiger Woods (13
under par) was the only player to finish in double-digit red
numbers, mostly because the field hit 56.9% of the greens in
regulation, the lowest percentage on Tour since the 2000 U.S.
Open at Pebble Beach (51.4%).
--Woods doesn't slump in January and February, he just doesn't
get serious until the Tour hits O-Town (Tiger-speak for
Orlando.) Anybody want to bet against Woods's sweeping the
Players and the Masters, as he did last year? Didn't think so.
--Annika Sorenstam remains the player to beat in women's golf
after winning two of her first three starts worldwide, but a
shaky putter remains her Achilles' heel. Sorenstam would be 3
for 3 in 2002 had she not ballooned to a final-round 76 at last
week's LPGA Ping Banner Health, (no) thanks to 33 putts,
including seven misses inside 10 feet. That opened the door for
Rachel Teske, who beat Sorenstam on the second hole of sudden
--Forget overhyped Aaron Baddeley; the Aussie to watch is
21-year-old Adam Scott. Last week he earned his second Euro tour
victory, the Qatar Masters, which elevated him to 50th in the
World Ranking, good for a last-minute berth in the Players. This
classy long-knocker is already exempt at Augusta, where he'll be
a dark horse.
--There's nothing wrong with the Senior tour that a little star
power can't cure. After Tom Kite won twice, including a thrilling
playoff duel with Tom Watson, and warhorse Hale Irwin had a pair
of victories, the Seniors suddenly seemed relevant again. Of
course, then Dana Quigley won last weekend.
--Gary Van Sickle
TV never would have cut away from a playoff involving Tiger
Woods, and having a cable network dis your top player--as ESPN did
by pulling the plug on Annika Sorenstam on Sunday--is the ultimate
indignity for the LPGA.
Bottom LINES by Sal Johnson
With his victory at Bay Hill, Tiger Woods has converted 22 of 24
third-round leads.... After averaging 30.66 putts a round in
three West Coast events, Woods has averaged only 27.38 in two
Florida starts.... Annika Sorenstam's career playoff record on
the LPGA tour is 10-4. Two of her losses have been to Rachel
Teske.... With rounds of 67, 75 and 70, Dana Quigley survived
poor weather to win the Siebel Classic, his sixth victory on the
Senior tour. It was just the fourth time since the 1997
Pittsburgh Senior Classic that a winner had only one round in
the 60s.... Hank Kuehne, the 1998 U.S. Amateur champ, made the
Canadian tour's Texas Challenge, in Austin, his first pro win.
On the bag was Kuehne's brother-in-law, 6'6", 322-pound Jay
Humphrey, an offensive lineman with the Denver Broncos.
Jesper Parnevik's nannies--a pair of fetching Swedes--have been
getting a lot of notice lately, and apparently one of them,
Elin, has caught the eye of golf's most eligible bachelor, Tiger
Woods. With Parnevik taking the week off, Elin (below) spent the
week in Woods's gallery at Bay Hill, leading to much whispering
among Tour wives about a budding romance. On Sunday, Woods was
spotted pulling into the players' parking lot with Elin in the
Former Tour player Denis Watson (referred to as a "PGA star" in
the Los Angeles Times real estate section) and his wife, Susan
Loggans, recently purchased a Malibu Colony house for close to
its $6.95 million asking price. Built in 1993, the
4,500-square-foot, Tuscan-style house features a gym, maid/guest
quarters and 32 feet of ocean frontage. Watson, 46, had three
victories on Tour, all of them in 1984, and still plays the
occasional Buy.com event. How has he landed in such swank digs?
Loggans has been named one of America's top 15 trial lawyers by
the National Law Review and has hosted a weekly TV program on
Reigning U.S. Amateur champ Bubba Dickerson was telling fellow
competitors at Bay Hill that he intends to turn pro in time for
the April 22-28 Greater Greensboro Open.
On the eve of the LPGA's Ping Banner Health, Danielle
Ammaccapane hosted a group of players at her eponymous sports
bar and grill on North Seventh Street in Phoenix. Heather
Daly-Donofrio, Wendy Doolan, Nancy Harvey and Sherri Turner,
among others, were less than impressed when Fox's celebrity
boxing appeared on one of the bar's 21 TVs, but the group hooted
and hollered when someone suggested a Helen Alfredsson vs.
Dottie Pepper slugfest as part of the Solheim Cup festivities.
Fans First gone astray: On Saturday a brazen spectator sneaked
onto the practice green at Moon Valley CC and began stuffing
stray balls into his pockets until Marianne Morris politely
informed him that they weren't free souvenirs.
VOTE AT golfonline.com
What's the most exciting par-3 on the PGA Tour: the 17th at the
TPC at Sawgrass (Players), the 12th at Augusta National
(Masters), the 17th at Pebble Beach (AT&T Pro-Am) or the 16th at
the TPC of Scottsdale (Phoenix)?
LAST WEEK: In SI's first-annual PGA Tour player survey, Dana
Byrum was selected as the best-looking Tour wife. Of the top
five, which one gets your vote?
Karen Chamblee 25% Angela Hjertstedt 16%
Tabitha Furyk 24% Dana Byrum 11%
Sonya Toms 24%
--Based on 2,431 responses to our survey.
The King and Queen Call It Quits
When she burst onto the scene in 1978, Nancy Lopez reinvented
the LPGA in much the same way that Arnold Palmer had shaken up
the PGA Tour two decades earlier. Last week Lopez announced this
will be her final full season on tour, while Palmer said the Bay
Hill Invitational would likely be his final appearance on the
under-50 circuit. Here's a recap of the lives of these two
pivotal figures in golf history.
Hometown previously famous for
Deacon (father), pro at Latrobe Country Club
Domingo (father), laborer
Homemade swing calls to mind...
Final-round charge to win 1960 U.S. Open
Five straight victories during rookie year
Big one that got away
PGA Championship (runner-up three times)
U.S. Women's Open (runner-up four times)
Signature move with fans
Miss America-style wave
Inducted into World Golf Hall of Fame
Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe
Nancy Lopez Elementary in Roswell
Husband Ray Knight's scuffle with fellow dad at girls' softball
Image-reinforcing trophy at own tournament
Sword at Bay Hill Invitational
Crystal bowl at Chick-fil-A Charity Championship hosted by Nancy
Who should star in biopic?
COLOR PHOTO: BOB MARTIN Island feverWoods's epic birdie putt at Sawgrass's 17th hole was a harbinger of his 2001 Masters win.
COLOR PHOTO: JIM GUND
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: JOE CIARDIELLO