Craig Parry's recent outburst at Augusta National officials for failing to invite his Australian countryman Robert Allenby raises the annual debate over the quality of the Masters field. "I understand it's their own event, and they can do what they want, but if they want to make it respectable around the world, they need to invite the best players," Parry said at the Honda Classic. Last month, while playing in the Australian Masters, Parry was much more vehement. Parry told Golf-week that it was "criminal" that Allenby, currently ranked No. 33 in the world, was not on the Masters invitation list.
Criminal? Hardly. The Masters' Committee simply doesn't recognize the Australian Tour's leading money winner, and perhaps with good reason. The best Australians compete on the PGA Tour or the European Tour. Allenby, who won the Honda Open in Germany last June, was 17th on the European Order of Merit.
"I think Robert will play in tons of Masters, but he'll have to qualify just the same as everybody else," says Aussie Steve Elkington. "If he elects to play on this tour, he'll have a chance every week to qualify."
Three Whiffs of Spring
This year replacement players have flooded into major league baseball camps from all walks of life, including the PGA Tour.
Rather than compete in the Doral-Ryder Open two weeks ago in Miami, Blaine McCallister spent four days at the Seattle Mariners' camp near Phoenix as a guest of his friend Steve Smith, who manages the Mariners' Triple A squad in Tacoma, Wash. McCallister had no visions of becoming a scab—not with his game. "It was my own little fantasy camp," McCallister said last week at the Honda Classic, where he finished fifth. "Except I didn't have to pay $5,000."
Baseball was McCallister's first love when he was a boy in Fort Stockton, Texas, and he played third base in high school. But he never had to catch a major league pop-up. He finally got a simulated taste of the real thing on Feb. 27. "They have this machine they can crank up to 90 miles per hour," he says. "It was a clear blue day, no wind, and this baseball, at the highest point, looked like a golf ball. They told me when you try to catch this, you've got to get five to eight yards behind it. In my four attempts I landed on my butt twice and missed it the other two times."
After the machine was turned down to 75 mph, McCallister finally succeeded, with a sprinting over-the-shoulder Willie Mays basket catch. Three days later—his last in camp—McCallister got an at bat in a game against Seminole ( Okla.) Junior College. He took the first two pitches and stepped out of the batter's box to check the third base coach for signs. "He was laughing so hard he just waved at me to step back in there," McCallister says. "My goal was not to get hit."
Mariner manager Lou Piniella watched from the dugout as McCallister swung at and missed the next three pitches. "Being the golfer that I am, that down-and-away pitch was tough to get at," McCallister said. "At least I went down swinging."
Leader in the Clubhouse