Stories for May 2004
Saturday, May 29
There are few moments in life more satisfying than proving a critic wrong. Being told you are not capable of accomplishing something, reading newspaper clippings that say you’re in way over your head can create an inner force that otherwise may not have been tapped.
Women’s golf veered off its progressive course May 24 with the announcement that Michelle Wie has accepted a U.S. Golf Association special exemption into the U.S. Women’s Open.
I call him Dr. Birdie, but most people refer to Dr. Gary Wiren as golf’s all-around man. He has seen and done it all. He also is the person who almost singlehandedly legitimized golf training aids.
They are called training aids, training tools or teaching aids. All golfers have seen them. Some, like the omnipresent Kallassy Swing Magic or the high-profile Medicus, might be considered billboards on the Great Golf Swing Highway. Others have lower visibility but offer distinct advantages to golfers who are willing to train and practice.
June 1 marks Tim Finchem’s 10th anniversary at the helm of the PGA Tour. Finchem, 57, is the Tour’s third commissioner, following in the footsteps of Joseph Dey (1969-74) and Deane Beman (1974-94). Golfweek editor Dave Seanor and deputy editor Jeff Babineau recently sat down with Finchem at his office in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., for a lengthy discussion about his tenure and the Tour’s future. Here are the highlights:
Oklahoma City University has compiled a nice foursome – four consecutive NAIA Championships. The latest came May 21 at Prairie Highlands Golf Course in Olathe, Kan., where Oklahoma City held off Johnson & Wales University of North Miami, Fla., by 10 shots, 1,170-1,1180.
A senior-laden UCLA squad edged a much younger New Mexico team by a stroke to win the NCAA West Regional May 22 at The Crosswater Club at Sunriver Resort. Now UCLA will try to match its female counterparts and give the Bruins both national golf titles.
Make no mistake, Kentucky won the NCAA Central Regional with the long ball. Led by John Holmes and Brandon Waldrop, the sixth-seeded Wildcats were able to hit it long and just straight enough to stay out of the considerable rough and signature waste bunkers surrounding the fairways on the 7,239-yard Pete Dye design.
Clemson University shot a final-round, 3-under 277 to finish at 16-over 856 and capture its third consecutive regional title, by six shots over Penn State. But the biggest story of all came from a small school in New England thanks to a gutsy, gallant performance from the University of Rhode Island, which qualified for regionals via its victory in the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship.
The rest of the field will be hunting Gators at the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship. Top-ranked Florida, despite coming off a fifth-place performance at the NCAA East Regional, undoubtedly is wearing the bull’s-eye as the team to beat June 1-4 at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Va.
California senior Sarah Huarte continued a long family history of athletic excellence when she walked away from Grand National’s Lake Course May 22 with the NCAA Division I Women’s Championship.
The Blue Devils came to last week’s NCAA Division I Women’s Championship prepared to put the finishing touches on a season touted as the best in college history. But an overshadowed UCLA team and an underachieving Oklahoma State squad threw in a dramatic plot twist.
With his final-round 65 at the Henrico County Open May 23 Daniel Chopra shattered the Nationwide Tour scoring record for most strokes under par (30 under) and matched the record books for total strokes (258). His four-stroke victory also may have created a bit of an identity crisis.
A year ago, Sherri Steinhauer had serious doubts about her future as a professional golfer. She was 40 and in the throes of her worst season since she was a rookie in 1986. She was on the way to a 119th-place finish on the LPGA money list. She had been without victory since 1999, when she won the JAL Big Apple Classic and the Weetabix Women’s British Open.
Bob May, Valhalla protagonist circa 2000, hasn’t played golf in a year – not on the PGA Tour, not at home, nowhere but in his head. He shot 6 under par in his last round, but it was one of the most dissatisfying 64s in golf history. He hurt his back on that last tee shot the final day of the 2003 EDS Byron Nelson Championship and hasn’t been seen since, save for several doctors’ offices.
On May 20, the Ladies Golf Union announced that the 2007 Weetabix Women’s British Open will be staged at the Old Course at St. Andrews. Later that day, at the inaugural World Congress of Women’s Golf, LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw delivered news that the five professional women’s tours have agreed to devise a world ranking system similar to the Official World Golf Ranking used by the men’s International Federation of PGA Tours.
Peter McEvoy, a former Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup captain, says current captain Garth McGimpsey will continue despite the fact he is under investigation after approximately $180,000 worth of cocaine allegedly was delivered to his home in Bangor, Northern Ireland.
Wednesday, May 19
Young U.S. squad breaks loose in singles to capture Curtis Cup
Saturday, May 15
It had been 13 years, eight months and 370 starts since Joey Sindelar last had to make a victory speech on the 18th green of a PGA Tour event, but there he was May 9, clearing his throat, trying to find just the right words after he was the last man standing on a wild final day of the Wachovia Championship.
Florida, UCLA and Oklahoma State were named top-seeded teams in each region for the NCAA Division I Men’s Regionals, the NCAA Golf Committee announced May 10.
Sweden’s Jesper Parnevik and England’s Luke Donald have surrendered their 2004 PGA European Tour membership, and with it any hope of playing in this September’s Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills.
Just when you thought the game was turning into a sport for young guns who launch the ball 300 yards-plus, up popped a 43-year-old whose halcyon days came more than decade ago.
The debate arises every year on the PGA Tour at The Players Championship. Now, a similar discussion will occur each year on the LPGA. Is there a need for a fifth major championship?
Se Ri Pak had dreamed of this day since she qualified for the LPGA more than six years ago. She never dreamed it would get here so soon. Once it did, she didn’t want it to end.
Don’t quite know how to say this without being tried in the court of public opinion for third-degree blasphemy, but get this: Spent six days in Charlotte last week, U.S. Open-type venue, U.S. Open-type field, and made the most amazing discovery. Tiger Woods – are you sitting down? – is, well, dare we say, human.
One reason the Rollins women are so dominant in their class – they won the Sunshine State Conference Championship by 66 shots – is because they frequently compete against Division I schools. That “raises the bar” for Rollins and gives the Tars a unique recruiting tool, the offer to compete at a big-time level, in sunny Florida, but without the pressures that students in Division I programs must endure.
Some golf instructors have the gift. They have the ability to see the golf swing as clearly as a slow-motion dance. They can tune it as a mechanic would tune an engine.
Ernie Boshers, director of the Windermere Golf Academy at Windermere Golf Club in Cumming, Ga., labels it the “death move” and is surprised more golfers don’t pay attention to it.
Locals like to describe this island off the southern coast of South Korea as the “Hawaii of Asia.” To thousands of newly married Koreans and fellow Asians, Jeju is a top honeymooning destination.
Traveling on Korean Air from Los Angeles to Seoul, a 13-hour flight, I was mesmerized by a video selection on my in-seat television. Children from Korean mountain villages were being introduced to golf, and, over and over, they kept saying the same thing: When they grow up, they want to be a “pro golf player.”
Korea: Spurred by the stunning success of its women ‘warriors,’ there’s no hotter golf market in the world.
The NCAA West Regional was nothing more than a pop quiz for UCLA and California. You might say they passed.
Vanderbilt put the finishing touches on a nine-stroke victory in the NCAA Women’s Central Regional, then started focusing on a strong, four-letter word. Duke.
Duke coach Dan Brooks described the NCAA East Regional as an “uncomfortable tournament.” But after his Blue Devils built an 11-stroke lead on Day 1, Brooks eased his way around Mission Inn’s El Campeon layout with a confident air.
Like the maid of honor in a wedding, the straight man in a comedy act or the crew chief of a race team, UCLA has played second fiddle to the mighty Duke Blue Devils all season.
Saturday, May 8
Aging baby boomers, notes Terry Eager, owner of the Magnolia & Ivy Tea Room inside the sparkling new Village of Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin, finally are discovering how to pamper themselves. This theory helps explain a strange yet memorable scene on a sun-splashed early autumn afternoon, a stone’s throw from the shoreline of the Florida Panhandle.
Bankrupt courses. Plunging equipment sales. Fewer rounds played. What is the future of this once golf-obsessed land?
Big cheese: Graeme McDowell secures an important victory and receives his weight in dairy.
Vijay Singh’s 27-foot birdie putt spurred a celebration and another Monday victory.