Late Jurist, Sifford Helped to Diversify Game

Charlie Sifford wrote a letter this week. He sent a message of sympathy to Kaygey Mosk, the widow of California Supreme Court Justice Stanley Mosk, who died nine days ago at 88.

It was not a letter that Sifford wanted to write, but it did remind him of another note Sifford wrote some 40 years ago that involved Mosk.

That was when Mosk was a state attorney general and Sifford was a professional golfer with no place to play.

At Sifford’s urging, Mosk took the lead role in eliminating the PGA of America’s “Caucasians only” rule, adopted in 1953, that limited membership to “professional golfers of the Caucasian race, over the age of 18 years, residing in North or South America.”

The 1962 PGA Championship was scheduled for Brentwood Country Club, but it was moved to Aronomink Golf Club in Newton Square, Pa., after Moss informed the PGA that it could not discriminate in California.


Three months later, the “Caucasians only” clause was gone. Sifford, of course, has not forgotten.

“He was a strong man to take that stand,” said Sifford, 79, who lives in suburban Cleveland.

“All African American golfers should be thankful for him, because without him, we might not be playing golf.”

Sifford was 41 by the time he became a regular on the PGA Tour in 1964, but he won the 1967 Greater Hartford Open and in 1969 at 46, shot a 28 on the front nine in the first round and birdied the last hole in a playoff to win the Los Angeles Open at Rancho Park.

But if it wasn’t for Mosk, Sifford says, he might not have had any chance at all.

Sifford said he was playing golf with Mosk in 1961 at Hillcrest Country Club when the issue that bound them together came up for the first time.

“He said, ‘Keep this up and you’ll win the PGA,’ ” Sifford said. “I said ‘I might, but I can’t play in it.’ He didn’t believe it. He said he’d do what he could and he did because I asked him to do it. He asked if he could count on me. I said, ‘I’ll sure stand up with you.’ ”

Mosk spent 37 years on the state Supreme Court bench, the longest-serving member in the court’s 151-year history. He was working in his office the day before he died and issued his last opinion five days before his death.

He was regarded as a strong advocate of individual liberties during his tenure on the bench, but as far as Sifford is concerned, Mosk’s greatest achievement came as attorney general in 1961.

“What he did, it should never be forgotten,” Sifford said. “Won’t be forgotten by me.”

Agency News

News item: SFX Sports Group buys Signature Sports, run by Jim Lehman, Tom Lehman’s brother.

Reaction: The New York producer and marketer of live entertainment dives further into the golf-representation business--it also represents John Daly after buying agent John Mascatello’s Cambridge Sports.

This way of doing business--buying up agents’ businesses (see David Falk, Arn Tellem, Randy and Alan Hendricks)--is the way that SFX operates. And, in the opinion of rival IMG and founder Mark McCormack, it vastly overpays in the process with an eye on selling out at some time.

SFX represents Michael Jordan, Andre Agassi, Kobe Bryant, Roger Clemens and other athletes, but it also represents the Backstreet Boys, U2, Eric Clapton and Jerry Seinfeld, besides putting on concerts and sporting events.

While critics call SFX an entertainment conglomerate that’s just a big stock play, it is still only getting its feet wet in golf. And SFX doesn’t help itself when it lists Greg Norman as a client. Norman is represented by Bart Collins of Great White Shark Enterprises, and while it could well be that SFX has an arrangement to bring deals to Norman if it can find them, it is a misrepresentation to claim to be his agent of record.

Tiger Update

News item: Tiger Woods is listed in People Magazine’s issue of “America’s Top 50 Bachelors.”

Reaction: Hope they cleared it first with the New York Post, which virtually every week runs gossip items that Tiger’s getting married.

Last Word on the Open

There was some fairly colorful writing in the London Telegraph on Retief Goosen’s victory at Southern Hills, concerning Goosen’s brain coach Jos Vanstiphout predicting a victory: " . . . an intelligent, diminutive and somewhat vain Belgian announced that the ‘Goose’ would strike like a black mamba to disembowel the Tiger.”

It really is a jungle out there.

An Old Story

News item: Dana Quigley is using his 16-year-old son, Devon, as his caddie this week at the U.S. Senior Open.

Reaction: Dana Quigley has irons that are 16 years old.

Webb Page

Karrie Webb’s grandfather died Wednesday at a hospital in Gold Coast, Australia, hours before she returned from the United States to see him. Only days earlier, Webb, 26, became the youngest woman to win a career Grand Slam with her victory at the LPGA Championship in Wilmington, Del.

Mick Collinson, whom Webb credits with launching her golf career, was 71.

Oh, Monty

It’s not getting any easier to be Colin Montgomerie. The Sunday Herald of Scotland suggested that native son Monty might consider retiring. The 38-year-old Montgomerie hasn’t won in 13 months and has finished 52nd and 46th in his last two U.S. Opens, a tournament in which he has been second twice and third once.

Montgomerie hasn’t been in contention in a major for four years, since the 1997 Open at Congressional.

What’s more, Montgomerie is only No. 39 on the Order of Merit, the European Tour money list he led for seven consecutive years and the method of determining the Ryder Cup team.

Of course, Monty is still going to be considered one of the favorites at the British Open next month at Royal Lytham, so it might not be wise to start retiring him any time soon.

Oh, Sergio

All right, he has won twice in his last five tournaments, but let’s not get carried away anointing Sergio Garcia as the (latest) rival for Tiger.

The MasterCard Colonial and the Buick Classic are fine tournaments to win, but it’s not as if Garcia beat Woods in the Masters or anything.

And while we’re at it, what’s up with Garcia’s swing? All of a sudden, he has to defend it? When we last checked, it’s still the same one he used to shoot a 77 in the last round at the U.S. Open . . . then he trots it out again the next week at Westchester and wins. Go figure.

Actually, the only thing that needs to be discussed about Sergio’s swing is the way he regrips his club over and over at address. Who did he get that from, the Boston Strangler?

More Sergio

There is one category in which Garcia rivals Woods: Youngest to earn $2 million in one year.

Garcia passed the mark last week at Westchester at 21 years 5 months 15 days. Woods was the previous youngest at 21 years 10 months 2 days, in 1997.

Good News, Eh?

Mike Weir is the first Canadian to make the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Weir lives in Utah, but that’s almost Canada, right?

Aim Better Next Time

Stat of the week: Produced on the Tour by Heath Slocum, who missed 16 greens in regulation last week, got it up and down 14 times and holed chips twice to play those 16 holes in two under. He was third in the Dayton event won by Todd Barranger, who was a mere 26 under.

The Hole Truth

Second-best stat of the week: The top-rated putter on the LPGA Tour is . . . Laura Davies (28.82 putts per round), whose reputation has been made on the tee, not on the green.

Have a Ball

News item: Precept is launching its “Tell Us About Your Lady” essay contest, offering golfers a chance to relate their experience playing its MC Lady ball. The winner gets a round of golf with Nick Price.

Reaction: The losers get a round of golf with Ben Wright.

Her New Caddy

She may not have been in contention at the LPGA Championship, but Annika Sorenstam still made news this week. She signed a multiyear deal to endorse Caddy Bar, a nutritional supplement distributed by Golf Nutrition.

New Senior News

They’re not wasting any time. Bruce Lietzke turns 50 July 18 and is going to play the Senior PGA Tour event at Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Chicago the next day. Lietzke already has scheduled seven events and may add more. Roger Maltbie turns 50 Saturday during the Senior Open and is expected to play in next week’s Senior PGA tour event in Ada, Mich.

Full Nelson

How do you figure Larry Nelson’s victory last week at the FleetBoston Classic?

For two weeks before the event, he had little feeling in his right arm and hand, when an old injury flared up: the herniated disk in his neck that he injured at the U.S. Senior Open at Riviera in 1998.

“I’ve shot some of my worst rounds when I’ve felt well,” he said.

That’s how.

Birdies, Bogeys, Pars

Mindy Zananis, 23, of Reseda is one of 150 golfers who will play in the second Special Olympics National Invitational Tournament, July 14-17, at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

How to have fun in the sun: Play unlimited golf at the Gary Player Course or the Pete Dye Course in a special offered once again at the Westin Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage. Details: (800) 335-3545.