And the Awards Go to...
Player of the Half Year
Padraig Harrington may be Europe's best player, but it is
England's Paul Casey (right) who has been the tour's most
consistent performer week in and week out. The big-hitting Casey,
25, has two wins and six top 10s.
South Africa's Trevor Immelman, 23, has continued the tour's
youth movement, winning for the first time at the South African
Open as well as coming in second at the prestigious Volvo PGA
Championship while surging to fourth on the money list.
It's tough to knock a guy who tops the money list, but Ernie
Els's brilliant start was tarnished by shocking collapses to two
no-name hyphenates, Lian-Wei Zhang at the Caltex Masters and
Robert-Jan Derksen in Dubai.
In South Africa, Immelman needed a birdie at the final hole to
force a playoff but left his tee shot under a tree. He smashed
a pitching wedge from 180 yards to 12 feet. On the first extra
hole he stiffed a 169-yard nine-iron to trump Tim Clark.
Els's Dubai debacle began on the 12th hole on Sunday, when he
laid the sod over an easy chip. His double bogey coincided with
CLUTCH PUTT After dominating the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open for the
first three rounds, Harrington needed a 12-footer for par to
force a playoff with Thomas Bjorn. On a fungus-ravaged green he
buried the putt center cut, then beat Bjorn on the first extra
hole for his seventh career victory.
Colin Montgomerie, after missing five cuts in seven starts during
a spring sojourn to America to play the PGA Tour:
"I think I stayed a couple of weeks too long. I couldn't even use
my bad back as an excuse."
In the News
CONSPIRACY THEORIST Seve Ballesteros (below right), the Euro
tour's alltime leading winner, with 50 titles, refused to accept
a stroke penalty for a slow-play violation at the Italian Open
and was disqualified when he signed for a 75 instead of a 76.
Beginning weeks of vitriolic posturing, Ballesteros said, "Ten
years ago I could have taken a minute and a half to play a shot,
but I'm not important anymore to the tour." Hitting rock bottom
in his painful, decadelong decline, Ballesteros went on to
declare "war" against the tour, likening it to the "mafia."
Eventually he was fined a reported ¬£5,000 by the tour, and
EXTREME MAKEOVER Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain has not cut his
curly reddish-brown hair in more than a year, and the wild bush
that has sprouted atop his head is now known as the Spafro
WARLOCKS VERSUS WITCHES II Spurred by the Martha Burk-led protest
at this year's Masters, the R&A announced last week that it will
separate its private, all-male golf club from its commercial and
rule-making enterprises, which will be run in part by nonmembers,
presumably of both sexes.
This revolution will be televised, as the twentysomethings
continue to overwhelm the tour, led by Casey, Immelman, Adam
Scott, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Nick Dougherty, among others.
But falling stars like Bjorn, Montgomerie and Darren Clarke will
make a last stand where they remain most dangerous, in the major
championships, while Harrington will finally get his first money
COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW REDINGTON/GETTY IMAGES FEELING BUBBLY Keyed by a 50-foot eagle putt on the 11th hole onSunday, Poulter, 27, won the Wales Open at Celtic Manor by threestrokes. Poulter, who now has a Euro tour victory in fourstraight years, began the week suffering from tonsillitis butopened with a 65 and led wire to wire.
COLOR PHOTO: NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP PHOTO (CASEY)
COLOR PHOTO: HARRY HOW/GETTY IMAGES (MONTGOMERIE)
COLOR PHOTO: RICHARD HEATHCOTE/ACTION IMAGES/ICON SMI (BALLSTEROS)