Concerning Bethpage, some wonder why it should be given an Open without first paying dues by hosting a lesser USGA championship. Also, the condition of the public course has been questioned. Fay says holding other events is not a criterion for being awarded an Open. And he dismisses those who say the course is too rough around the edges. "Using automobile terminology, some people have said we need to put in a new engine," Fay says. "I disagree. With that layout, it's more like a detailing job."
Two years ago Tim Herron postponed his pro career for a semester to get his degree from New Mexico. To those closest to Herron, earning the diploma—with a 3.2 grade point average—was every bit as impressive as his recent victory in the Honda Classic. The reason: Herron suffers from an auditory learning disability that has always made school difficult.
"It's a retention thing," says Herron's father, Carson. "We discovered in grade school that he was a step behind." Special tutoring classes got Herron through Wayzata (Minn.) High with a B-plus average, but his SATs barely met NCAA requirements. Herron put in extra time at New Mexico's Student Service Center and Athletic Academic Advisement department and not only remained eligible for the Lobos' golf team but also nearly qualified as an Academic All-America.
"People don't understand how hard it was for Tim to get it done, and yet he got it done," says John Fields, who coached Herron at New Mexico. "Some of his contemporaries did not get their degrees, but he decided it was important."
Herron, who was inspired in high school by a video about dyslexic race car driver Jackie Stewart, would like to serve as an example to others with learning disabilities. "When you're a kid, you tend to shy away from your problems," Herron says. "I'd just get scatterbrained if I had more than one thing in front of me, but I always worked hard. Now I'd like to help people like me. I'd like to show them that they can do it too."
Fast and Easy
A cold winter in north Florida could result in lower scores at this week's Players Championship, which celebrates its 15th anniversary at the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass. Although Fred Klauk, the superintendent, again has the greens firm and fast for the so-called "fifth major," the rough at the Stadium Course won't be as thick as it was in 1995, when the winning score was five under par and only 10 players finished in the red. "I've gone through an evolution with the players," says Klauk, who took a lot of heat when Greg Norman finished 24 under to win in 1994. "When the course opened [in 1982], it was too difficult. We tried to make the players happy, but they said it was too easy. I think we've finally got it where they want it."
The Short Game
Victories by Paul Goydos (Bay Hill), Scott McCarron (New Orleans) and Herron have increased the Masters field to 93, the largest since 103 competed in 1966....
Danny Yates, the 1992 Mid-Amateur champion, has once more been put on call to serve as a marker at the Masters. Yates was the marker when Jeff Maggert had his double eagle on 13 in 1994 and again when Jack Nicklaus eagled the 5th hole for the second time in the tournament last year....