Just what is it that makes Colin Montgomerie such an inviting target? His girth? His outspokenness? His whining? His 0-for-45 non-winning record in PGA Tour events?
It's a tough call, all right. Montgomerie, 34, played his first PGA Tour event of the year last week at Doral, where he promptly missed the cut and was greeted by a story in Sports Illustrated that referred to him as "the Goon from Troon."
The problem for many is that Montgomerie's outspoken nature often has been perceived as arrogance. It might be that sometimes, but it's also true that Montgomerie is right on track on many occasions. At the Ryder Cup in Spain, he said the European team would win (he was right), that the course was not suited to Tiger Woods (it wasn't) and that anybody could beat Woods (four of the six who had the chance did).
It came as no surprise at the Honda this week that Montgomerie offered no apologies . . . for anything.
"I think people have got the wrong impression sometimes," he said. "And it's not me."
The leading money winner on the European PGA Tour for the last five years, Montgomerie said he may play as many as 12 PGA Tour events this year and may play the tour full time next year.
In the meantime, Montgomerie goes full ahead, looking for his first PGA Tour victory and his first major. He might eventually find both. And when he does, he probably will have a lot more to say. We can hardly wait.
The so-called West Coast swing, which was supposed to have ended two weeks ago at the Nissan Open, is going to live on for five more months. This is sort of confusing, especially in the accounting department, because it's holding up a $100,000 check.
The last round of the meteorologically challenged Pebble Beach tournament is supposed to be played Aug. 17, the day after the PGA Championship, so what happens that Monday at Pebble will decide which player winds up with the most money on the West Coast swing and thus win a $100,000 bonus from Bank of America.
Here are the top five in the West Coast dash for cash: 1, David Duval $533,633; 2, Woods $485,600; 3, John Huston $460,250; 4, Jesper Parnevik $454,623; 5, Fred Couples $427,263.
Pebble's $450,000 first-place money will decide the king of the swing. Huston and Couples are out because they didn't play Pebble and Woods is 14 shots out of the lead, so he's done. So, too, is Duval since he's 10 shots behind. But Parnevik is only four shots back and Scott Simpson ($397,613) is seven shots back.
Who has the best shot? Probably Tom Watson ($359,400), who is tied for the lead at Pebble with Tim Herron ($132,119). Also among the leaders at Pebble who have a chance at the bonus are Phil Mickelson ($321,450), Davis Love III ($147,875) and Tom Lehman ($118,743).
Emilee Klein didn't have a very good year in 1997, and she decided she had to do something different this year. So she got a dog. Klein and her fiancee, Kenny Harms, who also caddies for her sometimes, got a Shih Tzu and named her Callie (after Callaway clubs).
Callie Klein travels in a carrier beneath Klein's seat on airplanes and until she's housebroken, Callie stays in the bathroom at the hotels on the road.
"She isn't thrilled about that," Klein said.
HONK FOR CHIP
Happy anniversary to Chip Beck, who has either missed every cut or withdrawn from 30 consecutive tournaments since he played in last year's Honda Classic. He shot a 75 on Friday.
It's tough being Shark, or so says Greg Norman, who claims to be putting golf on a much lower priority level than ever.
Norman, in an interview in the April issue of Esquire, said he was a lot like Woods when he was his age.
"But you don't know what's going to happen in the next 20 years," said Norman, 42.
That's true, all right. A dozen years ago, when Norman had one major victory, it would have been hard to figure that Norman would have had only one more since.
"Now I find going to the golf course is hard work," Norman said.
It was easy before?
LET FUZZY KNOW
Subject to controversial speculation last year by Fuzzy Zoeller, the Masters champions' dinner menu, a la Tiger, is apparently set. It will feature cheeseburgers, French fries, grilled chicken sandwiches and strawberry and vanilla milkshakes, according to the Associated Press.
OR JUST SWING HARDER
Gene Sauers played with Casey Martin at last week's Nike Greater Austin Open and said Martin seemed to resemble one other former Stanford player.
"Casey's got such great club-head speed, he reminds me a little bit of Tiger Woods," Sauers said. "I wish I had that much. I guess I should go to Stanford."
MORNING OR AFTERNOON?
Martin, who was playing in his first tournament in six weeks, ran down his schedule for the rest of March and then was pressed to answer a question as to when he would be playing his best golf.
"May 5," Martin deadpanned. "That's when I'll be playing my best golf."
A YOUNG ELDER
The only amateur in the field at Austin, 22-year-old University of Texas golfer Brad Elder, tied for 14th after closing with a wind-blown 81, but he led for a while during the second round.
It has been a long road back for Elder, who had a circulatory ailment in his right hand that kept his wrist in a cast for eight weeks last fall. For a while, Elder didn't know if he would be able to play golf again. Six doctors later, Elder is grateful to be playing, but uneasy about having his circulatory ailment compared to Martin's.
"His is a lot more serious," Elder said. "Mine seems kind of trivial compared to his."
Michael Bradley planned to play every tournament he could through the Freeport-McDermott Classic to try to get into the Masters, but when he won at Doral (which put him into the Masters for the first time), Bradley made a schedule change before this week's Honda Classic in Coral Springs, Fla. He pulled out, quicker than he could say "sore back."
OR CAMERA LENSES?
All right, identify these things: Air Zoom TW. SSL. Air Max Press. Air Zoom Tour II.
Are they jets? Vacuum cleaners? Aerosol room deodorizers?
No, they're the names in Nike's new spring line of golf shoes.
The ball war between Callaway and Spalding is over, at least for now, after last week's court ruling that Spalding can market balls designed to be used with Callaway's Big Bertha drivers.
Callaway sued in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, arguing that Spalding was confusing consumers by putting Callaway's trademarks and images on its packaging for Top-Flite balls. The court ruled otherwise, but Callaway still intends to try to stop the Top-Flite ball.
For what it's worth, Seve Ballesteros said Ernie Els--not Woods--will be the world's top golfer heading into the 21st century. Ballesteros told Reuters that Woods "has great potential" but he thinks Els will be dominant.
Why? All it took to convince Ballesteros was the fact that Els beat him in the World Match Play Championship in 1994. Maybe if Woods pounded Ballesteros sometime, he'd change his mind.
BIRDIES, BOGEYS, PARS
Chad Everett hosts a Conejo Valley Guild celebrity tournament June 29 at North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village. The event benefits the Jonsson Cancer at UCLA. Details: (818) 879-9905. . . . The 11th Lompoc City championship, a 36-hole stroke-play event, will be played March 21-22 at La Purisima Golf Course. Details: (805) 735-8395. . . .
Nevada Las Vegas is the No.-1 ranked men's team and Tulsa is the No. 1-ranked women's team in the latest MasterCard Collegiate Golf Rankings. USC is ranked No. 24 and UCLA No. 28 in the men's standings. Rory Sabbatini of Arizona is the top-ranked player. B.J. Schlagenhauf of UCLA is ranked No. 23, Jorge Corral of USC is No. 27 and teammate Charlie Woerner is No. 28. In the women's team rankings, USC is No. 17 and UCLA is No. 23.
Roddan Paolucci has been hired to manage and promote the Skins Game. The Palos Verdes Estates firm has been the public relations, marketing and advertising firm for the event, which will be held Nov. 27-29 at Rancho La Quinta. . . . David G. Price, American Golf chairman of the board and chief executive, won the 1998 Jerry Buss Humanitarian of the Year Award in recognition for American Golf's work in support of the Muscular Dystrophy Assn. Price received the award during the 11th Magic Johnson Sports Star Awards Dinner and Auction, where Woods won the MDA's 1998 Sports Achievement Award.
Mike Milthorpe resigned as executive director of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic to accept a job as vice president of golf ventures for Streetball Partners International in Dallas, but he will continue as the Hope's tournament director. Dawn Suggs, formerly a tournament administrative assistant, assumes a new post as director of administration to handle the day-to-day operation of the tournament.