In 2003, They Were Strange, but True
As usual, there has been no shortage of moments in golf that attracted attention for their unique, non-conforming qualities.
Just because these moments were lightweight in comparison with the other events that substantially altered golf’s landscape in 2003 doesn’t mean they should be overlooked.
Let us return now to these niche moments that deserve a place in our thoughts, however small, as we look back on a memorable year.
All the Night Moves
Scott Hoch, who had five laser surgeries to correct vision problems, said it was too dark to have a playoff on the last day at Doral, so he refused to play. Hoch simply walked off. The PGA Tour rules official said Hoch was correct.
Hoch was asked how dark it was.
“I got my eyes fixed, but he didn’t give me night vision.”
And what did he think about the fans’ booing and chanting?
“It made me feel like we were at the All-Star game.”
Hoch and Jim Furyk came back the next day, and Hoch won in the sunshine.
He beat the daylights out of him, you might say.
Phil Mickelson, who went winless on the golf course for the first time in five years, changed sports briefly. He tried baseball. He worked out with the Akron Aeros, a farm club of the Cleveland Indians, and had a pitching tryout for the Toledo Mud Hens, a farm club of the Detroit Tigers.
The box score: The Tigers had 119 losses and Mickelson had a 68-mph fastball.
Not a Swimsuit?
The unofficial quote of the year came from Jeff Sluman, when asked what he would most want to have with him if he were stranded on a desert island: “Sunscreen.”
The newspaper lead sentence of the year came from John Hopkins of the Times of London about Darren Clarke’s victory at the NEC Invitational.
Wrote Hopkins: “Darren Clarke knows the outside of a cigar, the inside of a Ferrari and the bottom of a glass of Guinness. What is there not to like about a man who can play golf so well without giving the impression that, to do so, he has to forswear all the weaknesses and enjoyable rituals of his life?”
And It Was Put on the Clock
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews’ symposium on slow play lasted two days.
Have a Nice Trip?
The Rodney Dangerfield “I Don’t Get No Respect” Award goes to John Jacobs. At the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, Jacobs was playing a practice round with Tim Herron. The marshals holding the gallery ropes recognized Herron and dropped the ropes to let him pass, but forgot about Jacobs and pulled the rope back up, tripping Jacobs. Jacobs gamely played the first round, but shot an 87 in pain and had to withdraw.
The Bad Shots of the Year Award (at the Worst Time) include Tiger Woods’ opening tee shot at the British Open that he hit into the thick stuff and couldn’t find; Thomas Bjorn’s losing his lead at Royal St. George’s at the 16th hole on Sunday when he left two balls in a greenside bunker; and Jeff Maggert’s shot from the fairway bunker at the third hole on Sunday at Augusta National that caught the lip of the bunker and struck him in the chest for a two-shot penalty.
Gary Player estimated he has traveled 14 million miles in his 46-year career, then signed up a new endorsement. For luggage.
Clearly it was another banner year for Annika Sorenstam, but not on all fronts. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent Sorenstam a letter urging her to ask Kentucky Fried Chicken to stop abusing chickens, or to walk out on her endorsement deal with KFC.
The PETA letter said, in part: “While we cheer your birdies and eagles on the golf course, we were saddened to learn that you are supporting the suffering of real-life birds.”
Longshot Hilary Lunke won the U.S. Women’s Open, but her victory nearly got lost in the shuffle because 13-year-old Michelle Wie’s father and Danielle Ammaccapane’s father nearly came to blows over alleged breaches of golf etiquette during the first two rounds when Wie and Ammaccapane played together.
Said Kendra Graham, the USGA’s director of rules and competition for the Open: “Danielle expressed some concerns about what was going on out there.”
Said David Fay, the USGA executive director: " Would Danielle have talked like that to someone else, someone who was 40 years old? Probably not, because she might have gotten a fist in the mouth.”
Said B.J. Wie about Ralph Ammaccapane: "[He said,] ‘If you continue to lie about my daughter, I will take your head off.’ ”
Said Ralph Ammaccapane: “It’s been a week from hell. As a parent, I feel bad for my daughter.”
OK, They’re Even
After endorsing Callaway clubs for years, Colin Montgomerie dropped them and signed with Hogan, which was part of the Top-Flite company. Callaway bought Top Flite and promptly dropped Montgomerie.
Greg Norman, who dropped his PGA Tour membership, cheered himself up by buying the world’s largest aluminum motor yacht, called “Aussie Rules.” The 285-foot craft cost $70 million and has seven auxiliary boats, two hyperbaric chambers, plus a $1-million home theater ... perfect for watching Masters highlight tapes.
Almost Daily Daly News
He hasn’t won a PGA Tour event since the 1995 British Open, but John Daly did win the Korean Open in October. Daly had not made a cut since he had tied for 38th at the Buick Open in July and withdrew from the 84 Lumber Classic when he started hyperventilating.
Since August, Daly missed three cuts, withdrew from three other tournaments and was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard in another.
Daly skipped the final two events of the season to take care of personal issues. Five days after giving birth to his son, Daly’s wife was indicted along with her parents in federal court in Mississippi on charges of laundering $1.2 million in illegal drug profits.
Despite having a clock in his car, a clock on the putting green, a clock in the locker room and a clock at the 10th tee, Aaron Baddeley showed up 40 seconds late for his tee time in the second round of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill and was assessed a two-shot penalty.
After opening with a 69, Baddeley shot a second-round 77. Only 22, he wound up tied for 57th, but the feeling is that Baddeley will have more chances to win a major before he’s through. Time will tell.