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November 03, 2004
Volume III, Issue 16
 
Fringe Clippings
 
Just in case, don't wake me up....
 
There could be no dreaming of this growing up on a dirt floor in Fiji or swatting balls in a Borneo rain forest or working as a bouncer in Europe to make ends meet. Even as a rookie on the PGA Tour a decade ago, Vijay Singh's goals were modest, such was the enormity of a tournament title in the United States. "Winning one time would have been a big achievement,'' he said. Now he has done so nine times in just this year.
 
Proof that life begins at 40...
 
Singh joined Tiger Woods as the only golfers in the past 50 years to win nine times in a PGA Tour season when he captured last weekend's Chrysler Championship. It was his sixth win in his past nine starts. Singh, 41, won for the 24th time in his PGA Tour and the 12th time since turning 40 last year. He also surpassed the $10 million mark in earnings — this year. For his career, he's earned more than $36 million. Here's some perspective. Neither Jack Nicklaus nor Tom Watson ever won eight times in a single season, let alone nine.
 
Let's check those green cards please...
 
Lake Nona Golf Club in Orlando, Fla., had an unprecedented sweep of a weekend's golf tournaments recently. That is where a slew of golfers make their home and four of them won on the same Sunday, on three different tours and in three different countries. Ernie Els, Annika Sorenstam, Sergio Garcia and Mark McNulty all won on Oct. 17. Els captured the European tour's World Match Play Championship in England for a record sixth time, while Sorenstam won the LPGA's Samsung World Championship in California. Garcia won the European Tour's Mallorca Classic in Spain and McNulty captured the Champions Tour's SBC Championship in San Antonio. Although none of the players are Americans, all make their U.S. base at Lake Nona.
 
Wow, to be able to play from the women's tees...
 
The first transsexual to play in a pro golf tournament was Mianne Bagger who played in the March 2004 women's Australian Open. On Wednesday, Mianne again set the pace becoming the first transsexual golfer to qualify for the Ladies European Tour. The Ladies European Tour changed its rules earlier this year to eliminate the "female at birth" in its membership policy. The rule change puts the golf tour in line with the International Olympic Committee regulations on transgender athletes.
 
Teach them well...
 
Bloomingdale High School in Brandon, Florida, has a lot to be proud of, not the least of which is Chelsee Richard. Chelsee is a senior and captain of the girls' golf team. On the last Monday of October, her team was playing in the regional tournament, a qualifier for the high school state finals. Chelsee hit her #2 tee shot into the rough. On the third hole she alone saw her error. While she plays Titleist Pro V1s, she marks them all with blue lines. The ball in her hand had no such markings. She had unwittingly played a Pro V1 lost by another golfer. The penalty in stroke play is that a golfer must declare the wrong ball penalty before putting or be disqualified. Chelsee reported her error to her competitors knowing full well that she had disqualified herself. She played out the final holes of her high school career in tears. Her father said, "Her season ended when she admitted she played the wrong ball. As a parent, it's what you hope for, that you've raised your child to do the right thing." Mr. Richard, no doubt, knows he is blessed.
 
 
Paralysis by Analysis
 
Repair the course, of course!
 
In recognition of the divot-ridden fairways at golf courses around the world, we dedicate this instruction article to our good friends in the maintenance shed! They are up at three o'clock every morning trying to keep our fairways lush and inviting (not that we ever use the fairway).

"If I have told you once, I have told you a million times: replace your divots!" Does this sound like anyone you know?

Well, they may be a loud mouth but at least he/she knows how to take care of the course. It's relatively simple course etiquette. It takes just a few moments to adjust the real estate you have marred.

Here are some simple tips for you to remember. (For those with a tendency to forget, write them down!)
  1. After striking your ball off the tee or ground, be sure to:
    • Replace the divot you chunked up
    • Pick up your tee

  2. After striking a shot out of the fairway, rough, hazard or other solid ground on which your shot may have fallen, replace your divot with the sand provided, and using your foot, firm up said sand and flatten it to level ground.

  3. When hitting from a sand trap, bring the rake out of your cart, use the rake in the bunker or at the very least brush the sand even with your spikes. Bad karma will come back to haunt you if don't live cleanly!

  4. Put a divot tool in your pocket before each round. If you don't have one, then borrow one. Your marks on the green, should you hit it, are the most virus-prone part of the golf course. They will also interrupt putts and increase greens fees should you leave them and force the golf course staff to deal with them.
Of course, these little tips are not the beginning and end of golf course maintenance, but if you have these down pat while you are on the course, then at least you're a leg up on Joe Duffer. Don't forget, though, that your responsibility is not limited to you but extends to every golfer in your group. So when you start to shake your head because someone has not raked a bunker, bring the rake to your partner! If he refuses, express your disgust and rake the stinking bunker for him. Then, when he is not looking, loosen his bag from the accommodating straps on the back of your cart so his clubs can fall in peril on the next inclined path.

Perhaps the guilty party will get the hint. If not, they are probably too brain dead to waste your time explaining it to them. Next time play with a woman. An informal survey of golf pros reveals that women seem to care and acknowledge these little nuggets of wisdom better than men, on the whole.
 
 
Reading the Line
 
El of a response...
 
In the last Fringe we noted that it takes a lot to annoy the Big Easy, but the PGA Tour managed to do so when it sent a letter to Ernie Els stating that it expects him to play more on the PGA Tour in 2005 and less in Europe. To that, Els said, "Don't put a padlock around me, because that's not going to work.'' We opined that "the PGA Tour runs the risk of pushing Els away." Well what do you know, Els cancelled his scheduled play in last week's Chrysler Championship. Coincidence? We think not. Latest news, the rift is healed. The dispute with the PGA Tour turned out to be a "misunderstanding." Only after a meeting this week at East Lake where he will play in the Tour Championship did Ernie "realize" the Tour wasn't demanding he play any more in the United States than he already does. Coincidence? We think not.
 
April in Paris, November in Atlanta...
 
When it began in 1987, the Tour Championship was supposed to be the ultimate season-ending event on the PGA Tour. It would offer substantially more prize money than the other tournaments, and would crown the PGA Tour money winner, along with other honors, such as player of the year and perhaps the scoring title. But now, sadly, it is nothing but a money grab, as this week at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, the top 31 players on the PGA Tour will compete for a purse in excess of $6 million, with a whopping $90,000 going to the last-place finisher. What is worse is the fact that the event will no longer move around. Earlier this year, the tour announced that the Tour Championship would be anchored at East Lake, a great golf course. But Atlanta already has a regular PGA Tour event, the BellSouth Classic, and the beauty of the event was that it moved around the country to some excellent golf courses, including Champions in Houston, Southern Hills in Tulsa and Olympic Club in San Francisco. No more. And we think that's too bad.
 
Who was the Titanic's Captain?
 
Tom Lehman was named captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team for 2006 in Ireland. Lehman, a five-time PGA Tour winner who also captured the 1996 British Open, played on three Ryder Cup teams and never lost a singles match. Look for this to be big fodder in Europe, where the media still hasn't gotten over the scene in 1999 when the U.S. team trampled the 17th green on the final day after Justin Leonard made an improbable birdie putt that clinched the Cup. Lehman was among the first to celebrate that day. And it happens to be the only time the U.S. won the Ryder Cup in the last four meetings.
 
Larry had every vote that didn't count...
 
With apologies to Tom Lehman, who by all accounts is a great guy and a deserving U.S. Ryder Cup team captain, the PGA of America blew it. Once again, they passed over Larry Nelson, a two-time PGA Championship winner, U.S. Open winner, and class guy. All Nelson did was go 5-0 in the 1979 Ryder Cup and go 9-3-1 overall in three appearances. All he did was win three major championships in the 1980s. He should have got the captaincy in 1997, when it went to Tom Kite. Nobody ever explained why to Nelson, who remained above the fray. Then, after another debacle that saw the U.S. lose by the biggest margin ever to the Europeans in September at Oakland Hills, Nelson became a popular choice. Past Ryder Cup captains lobbied the PGA of America to pick him and go against their formula of picking 40-something captains who still play on the PGA Tour. Lehman himself supported Nelson, as did Paul Azinger. If the PGA of America was not going to choose Nelson, the organization should have done all the favor of letting it be known early that it would stick to its original formula of younger captains. Many believed Nelson would get the job. Instead he got burned, again.
 
 
 

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