Matters just keep getting worse. He missed the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. At the Nestle Invitational in March, rounds of 82-76 sent him home early. The next week he withdrew after a first-round 85 at The Players Championship. When he put up a 79-81 at the Masters in April, the 34-year-old Baker-Finch decided to take six weeks off and try to regroup.
Even before his self-imposed moratorium from golf, Baker-Finch had begun working again with Mitchell Spearman of the David Leadbetter Golf School in Orlando. He had drifted away from Spearman in 1993 and begun listening to too many other experts. "He needs to go through what Nick Faldo did in 1985, start all over and create good habits again," says Spearman.
Baker-Finch had been playing with a slightly torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder and a weak lower back, ailments that were a result of overpracticing. Since mid-April he has been working with a nutritionist, a fitness trainer and a sports psychologist. He didn't touch a club until the middle of May, when he began practicing again, getting ready for his return at the Colonial. Most of his rehab time was spent on massage, aerobic exercise and twice-weekly yoga sessions.
"I'd been playing hurt for a long time, and the mental stress had been too much," says Baker-Finch. "My body got to the point where it couldn't completely handle it. It was completely stressed."
Baker-Finch missed the cut at the Colonial and three weeks later at the U.S. Open, but he looked recharged at Shinnecock, where he was paired for the opening 36 holes with Jack Nicklaus. Statistically, he ranked dead last the first two days at the Open in both fairways hit (five total) and greens in regulation (six), but he fought his way to two respectable 76s.
"Your mind is like a bucket of water," says Baker-Finch. "Every time you hit a positive shot, it's like putting a stone in the bucket. A little bit more of the negative water falls out. I've got to fill the bucket with positive stones."
Jodie Mudd's golf bucket started to fill up with negative water three years ago, and like Green, his troubles may have started with a divorce, from his wife, Jennifer, in 1993. But unlike Green, Mudd's parting did not lead to bitterness but to enlightenment. It made him realize that there is more to life than just the PGA Tour.
"I'm not a religious person," Mudd says. "I don't believe in the Second Coming or second lives. I'm 35 years old, and the way I look at it, I'm pretty much halfway through my life. The divorce made me change my thinking. It made me realize there was much more to life."
His mother, Helen, thinks the change in her son's life is linked to the death of his father, Ed, 14 years ago. Ed was 54 when he died of a heart attack in 1981, just two weeks after Jodie won his second Public Links Championship. Jodie's grandfather, Hobart, had died of heart disease at the age of 47. For Jodie the death of his father gave him a sense of his own mortality.
Money isn't especially a problem for Mudd. He has plenty of that—$2.7 million in career winnings—and he also has five years remaining on a 10-year exemption for winning the 1990 Players Championship. The biggest reason for Mudd's steady decline is that he doesn't play many tournaments. Mudd entered the minimum number of events last year (15), preferring to spend more time on his farm in Finchville, Ky., than on the golf course. He stables three horses at Glencrest Farms in Lexington, reads the Racing Form every day and has two yearlings that will be up for sale in September at Keeneland Race Track. One filly, Somethingmerry, could bring as much as $150,000 at auction. His long-term goal is to make enough money breeding horses to buy land he can develop into a public golf course.