Seeing the Light
What we learned at an improbable PGA Championship
Rich Beem hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy while four downtrodden
club pros failed to break 80, but there were plenty of other
winners and losers last week. Here's our tally.
PEPTO-BISMOL In the most over-the-top product placement since
O.J.'s Bruno Maglis, Beem boasted that his daily preround chug
helped quiet his butterflies. Here's hoping he doesn't get an
Imodium A-D endorsement.
MINNESOTA GOLF FANS First they willed the Golden Gophers to an
NCAA title, then they turned the PGA into a raucous party--without
any of the boorishness of the Bethpage masses.
STEVE DUPLANTIS Beem's hard-living ex-caddie is now making a go
of it on the European tour, far from the glory of the PGA
Championship. But without Duplantis's guidance, Beem never
would've won the 1999 Kemper Open, and without that preposterous
breakthrough, Beem would probably be selling sweaters in the El
Paso Country Club pro shop today.
HAZELTINE NATIONAL Following the biggest makeover this side of
Greta Van Susteren, the once reviled track emerged as a thrilling
major championship venue.
JUSTIN ROSE He made his pro debut in the U.S. by opening with a
69, a hint of what's to come. Watch out for this multitalented
Englishman, who is younger than Sergio Garcia.
PGA OF AMERICA The lords of the Masters and the U.S. Open have
become obsessed with protecting par, which has led to brutal
setups that are inching toward unplayable. The PGA doesn't care
what the winning score is and is content to offer a tough but
fair venue that consistently produces the year's most exciting
TIGER WOODS Let the legend shrink.
BUTCH HARMON They say they're still friends. We know what that
means--it's over between "Butchie" and his prized pupil. At least
Harmon still has Justin Leonard.
LOU HOLTZ The legendary college coach used to set the standard
for press-conference poor-mouthing, and then along came Beem. To
hear the newly minted PGA champ talk, it's a wonder he ever
LEONARD Almost as shocking as Beem's victory was J. Low's
collapse. That final-round 77 was a devastating setback for a
grinder who had been building toward another major for five
EUROPEAN RYDER CUP team When Pierre Fulke is your low man at the
PGA, you know you're in trouble. Eight of the 12 Euros missed the
cut at Hazeltine, just the latest warning sign that the Ryder Cup
may be a bust.
CHARLES HOWELL Three under par and a very strong contender well
into the third round, Howell had a chance to bust out of his
sophomore slump, but he blew up over the final 10 holes on
Saturday, making three double bogeys, including a four-putt on
which the last three tries were inside of three feet. Howell's 80
doomed him to 17th place; his last top 10 finish remains the
Nissan Open last February.
VICTORY JIGS Even with all her practice, Juli Inkster still looks
ridiculous. Beem would be wise to lose the modified cabbage patch
and stick to fist pumps.
This PGA cut Tiger Woods deep. At the British Open he could blame
his demise on some weird weather, but Hazeltine will go down as
the place where Tiger finally blinked first. Forget the
high-gloss, four-birdie finish. Woods will remember the crushing
back-to-back bogeys that preceded it.
Notah Begay didn't compete at the PGA Championship, but he did
travel to the Twin Cities last week to throw out, er, chip the
ceremonial first pitch before the Aug. 13 Twins-Orioles game. "I
hit a little sand wedge from just forward of the rubber," says
Begay, who was on hand to support Native American Heritage Night.
"We used a modified baseball--something soft that was more like a
mushball. To a righthanded batter it would have been on the
Tour veteran Brandel Chamblee, 40, has agreed to work at least
nine golf telecasts for ABC in 2003. A semiregular talking head
on the Golf Channel, Chamblee says he will be in a tower, but he
doesn't know which one or with whom.
When does a party have a corporate sponsor? When the
get-together is the so-called Lumpy Bus Bash, in honor of
Minnesota's most colorful golfer, Tim (Lumpy) Herron. At 9:30 on
Friday morning, 100 or so of Herron's closest friends convened
at the home of Ketti Histon, Herron's older sister, who was
spearheading the bash with their kid sister, Alissa Super. By
noon, six cases of James Page Brewery beer, a two-gallon cooler
of a minty margarita mix and three bottles of rum and Diet Coke
had been disposed of, the spirits part of a $2,000 budget
provided by a Minneapolis-based financial-services company that
Herron endorses. As soon as the alcohol ran dry, the Lumpers
piled into a rented yellow school bus, each sodden enthusiast
wearing a green cap and white T-shirt emblazoned with 2002 pga
lumpy championship. Upon arriving at Hazeltine, Histon gave her
charges a pep talk. "Try not to act like a bunch of animals!"
she said. Once the herd caught up with Herron, the drinking game
of choice was to pound a beer every time their hero made a
birdie, and Herron set off much chugging by rolling in an
eight-footer at number 10, his first hole of the day. However,
as he began chopping his way to what would be a 75, the Bus
Bashers began drinking to birdies and bogeys. Herron ended up
three strokes over the cut line, and the ride home was a somber
one for his fans--at least until the bus pulled up to Histon's
home, and Lumpy was magically there waiting, a wavy-haired
Buddha cracking open a Budweiser. The Bus Bashers let out a loud
cheer. Toasts were offered to the next PGA at Hazeltine, which,
thankfully, is not until 2009.
VOTE AT GOLFONLINE.COM
THIS WEEK: Will the reduced role of Butch Harmon have a positive
effect on Tiger Woods, a negative effect or make no difference?
LAST WEEK: In May the USGA proposed that hot drivers be legalized
for a window of five years but recently ruled that such drivers
would continue to be banned. Do you agree with the USGA's latest
ruling, disagree or not care one way or the other?
Agree...54% Disagree...27% Don't Care...19%
--Based on 5,572 responses to our informal survey.
COLOR PHOTO: SIMON BRUTY ALSO RAN Woods made a great escape on the 54th hole butran out of heroics on Sunday.
COLOR PHOTO: FRED VUICH (LEFT) BIG BASH Herron struggled, but the Lumpers had his back.