Every so often Aaron Barber and Dean Wilson bump into each other.
Invariably, one of them will squint and ask, "Aren't you the guy
who played with Annika?" Neither golfer can count the number of
times he has been asked that question since the two were grouped
with Sorenstam for the opening rounds of the 2003 Colonial. "A
day doesn't go by when someone doesn't recognize me for having
played with Annika," says Wilson. "It was a privilege to be part
Barber, 31, and Wilson, 34, were Tour rookies who barely knew
each other before being thrown under the klieg lights together,
and their lives have diverged widely since. For Wilson, who
played well, finishing 21st, the event served as something of a
springboard for his life and career. Barber, who missed the cut,
continues to have difficulties.
Following the tournament, Wilson went on to finish 98th on the
money list; Barber ended up 140th in earnings. Then Barber was
forced to withdraw from last year's Q school because of a calf
injury. His conditional status this year means he is likely to
play only about a dozen Tour events.
As he alternates between the regular and Nationwide tours--on
which he has won $9,667 in three events--Barber wonders if he can
make it on the PGA Tour. "There are some weeks during which I
feel I can compete," he says. "Other weeks I think, What am I
doing? That's why it's hard for me to answer when people ask if
Annika is good enough to play on Tour. I'm trying to figure out
if I am."
Wilson has fallen to 158th on the money list this year, but it's
early and he will be returning to the Colonial. Originally both
players were denied an exemption, but Wilson received an
11th-hour sponsor's invite last Friday. "Dean played well under
pressure last year and made the cut, and we remember those
things," says Dee Finley, the Colonial's tournament chairman.
"Based on how Dean and I supported the tournament last year, I
felt we were owed an opportunity," says Barber, who hasn't seen
or spoken to Sorenstam since they exchanged scorecards.
Meanwhile Wilson and Sorenstam have developed a friendship. He
has visited her three times in the last year, they talk on the
phone two or three times a month, and they frequently exchange
text messages and e-mail. "We're both friendly people," says
Wilson. "We're about the same age, we're both with Callaway, and
we have a lot of mutual friends."
Says Sorenstam, "It's fun to talk to somebody who was in the same
boat. We talk golf, but mostly it's nice to have a
friend." --Seth Davis
COLOR PHOTO: DAVE MARTIN/AP (COLONIAL) THANKLESS Neither Barber (left) nor Wilson was originally invited to this year's Colonial.
TWO COLOR PHOTOS: EUGENE HOSHIKO/AP (JIMENEZ, NORMAN)
Once a classic shotmakers' course, Colonial is now too confining
for today's long-hitting pros. Look for more players to follow
the example of Ernie Els and Tiger Woods and avoid the place.
Up & Down
The "What will Phil do next?" line no longer sounds like a bumper
sticker for buffoonery.
Is it time for Tiger to observe: So this is what it looks like in
The '03 Hartford qualifier debuted as an ESPN analyst at last
week's Franklin American.
Analyst? He refuses to be even mildly critical and constantly
makes excuses for Woods.
Miguel Angel Jimenez
The shaggy Spaniard leads the Euro tour in ponytails and wins,
with three of the latter.
For the second time this year the Shark was DQ'd for an illegal
drop after finding water.