2002: Nothing silly about ‘offseason’ cash

They call it the Silly Season, or at least they used to. It now is called the Challenge Season, and perhaps a new name is justified, because there was nothing silly about the cash earned by two of golf’s biggest names at these year-end exhibitions.

Tiger Woods, in fact, maintained an “offseason” schedule that rivals the pace he keeps during the PGA Tour campaign, playing four events in three weeks. In the process, he didn’t do his bank account any harm. He wrapped up the Challenge Season by playing host last weekend at the Target World Challenge.

And Ernie Els didn’t do too badly, either. This usually is a busy time of the year for Els, but with a newborn son at home in South Africa, the Big Easy is taking it easy. He passed on the PGA Grand Slam – last place guaranteed $150,000 – but did OK at home in the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City, pocketing $2 million, the richest first-place prize in golf.

Following is a roundup of Silly, er, Challenge Season events:

Woods continued his dominance at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, winning the event for the fifth consecutive time with a tournament-record 11-under 61 Nov. 27 at Poipu Bay Golf Course in Kauai, Hawaii.

Woods shot 66-61 (17 under) to win by 14 strokes over Justin Leonard and Davis Love III. Woods earned $400,000, Love and Leonard each earned $225,000 and PGA champion Rich Beem took home $150,000.

Woods’ 61 tied his personal best for an 18-hole tournament round.

With Woods winning two majors and British Open champion Els

withdrawing from the event, Love and Leonard, past major champions, gained invitations based on their

finishes in this year’s majors.Mark O’Meara was the big winner Dec. 1 at The Skins Game in Indio, Calif., proving he can still raise his game when he gets around the game’s best players. O’Meara emerged the winner in a four-man field that included the top two

players in golf – Woods and Phil Mickelson – and Fred Couples.

O’Meara finished with eight skins

totaling $405,000, and his nine birdies over two days at Landmark Golf Club tied the Skins Game record set by Couples in 1999. Mickleson had three skins totaling $300,000, Couples had three skins totaling $170,000, and Woods had four skins totaling $125,000.

Woods shot a 4-under 67 Nov. 24 for his best round at the Dunlop Phoenix tournament In Miyazaki, Japan, but finished six strokes behind winner Kaname Yokoo. Spain’s Sergio Garcia finished one stroke behind at 14-under 270, and South Korea’s K.J. Choi was third. Defending

champion David Duval shot a final-round 68 to finish at 11 under.

Els shot a course-record

9-under 63 Dec. 1 for an eight-stroke victory over Colin Montgomerie in the $4.06 million Nedbank Challenge in Sun City, South Africa.

Els had nine birdies and finished at 21-under 267 at Gary Player Country Club to claim the

$2 million first prize, the richest in golf. Els has won the event three of the past four years.

Lee Janzen and Rocco Mediate, former teammates at Florida Southern, combined to shoot 31-under 185 to win the Franklin Templeton Shootout Nov. 24 at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla. Matt Kuchar and David Gossett birdied 16 of 18 holes and shot 56 in the final-day scramble format, one shot off the tournament record.

Tom Lehman and Raymond Floyd were perfect in three matches and helped the United States retain the UBS Warburg Cup Nov. 17. Lehman and Floyd twice teamed to beat European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam. Both Americans won their singles matches to go undefeated, and the United States beat the Rest of the World team by a 141/2-91/2 margin.

Rich Beem and Peter Lonard defeated defending champions Fred Couples and Mark Calcavecchia, 2 and 1, to win the PGA Tour portion of the $1.2 million Hyundai Team Matches Nov. 17 in Dana Point, Calif.

Lorie Kane and Janice Moodie successfully defended their LPGA championship by defeating Juli Inkster and Dottie Pepper, 3 and 2.

Dana Quigley and Allen Doyle beat Jim Thorpe and John Jacobs, 2 and 1, to successfully defend their Senior PGA title.

Fuzzy Zoeller won the Senior Slam by one stroke over Don Pooley Nov. 10 in Superstition Mountain, Ariz. Zoeller’s two-day total of 6-under 138 was worth $300,000 in a tournament that featured the four Champions Tour (formerly Senior PGA Tour) major championship winners of 2002. Stewart Ginn finished three strokes back, and Jim Thorpe was seven back.

And finally, if you don’t want to know who won the Wendy’s Three-Tour Challenge – the event airs Dec. 21-22 on ABC – then don’t read on.

John Daly, Rich Beem and Jim Furyk combined to shoot 5 under par to win the event, which was played Nov. 5 in Henderson, Nev.

Champions Tour players Gary McCord, Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw finished two strokes behind for second place. Finishing third were Juli Inkster, Karrie Webb and Laura Diaz from the LPGA.

– Staff and wire reports

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