There are certain truisms in golf: Never up, never in. Drive for show, putt for dough. It's not how, but how many. And Andy North gets no respect.
North's victory in the 1978 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills was called a fluke, and when he won the Open again in '85 at Oakland Hills, all anyone wanted to know was what kind of champion has only three career wins? Therefore the treatment he has received this year comes as no surprise.
Although his 10-year exemption for winning in '85 ran out last year, North thought the U.S. Golf Association might waive him into Oakland Hills when the Open returns there next month. Think again, Andy. "Competitiveness remains an important factor," says David Fay, the USGA's executive director. "That's subjective, but Andy hasn't played very much, and when he did play, he didn't seem to be very competitive."
In fact, North has missed the cut in seven of the last 10 Opens, and last year at Shinnecock, where he shot 75-75, he had to walk up some of the hills backward to spare his aching knees. He has not played in a tournament since finishing eighth in a non-Tour event at Pebble Beach last November.
So North, who won't criticize the USGA other than to say, "I think I've got more class than they do," will play in 36-hole sectional qualifying for the first time since 1975. "I understand their rules and regulations," he says, "and what the heck, Arnold Palmer had to qualify. If they made him do it, I'm not going to sit around and complain."
He is less charitable when it comes to this week's Memorial Tournament, which declined his request to be included in the field. It was the first time North had made such an appeal to a tournament, and he did so because he wanted to use the Memorial as a tune-up for Open qualifying. "I was shocked by their decision, absolutely shocked," he says. "I guess that's just the way it is."
Hoping to land Tiger Woods, the Skins Game will hold off naming its four-man field until after the U.S. Amateur, which ends Aug. 25. The field for the Thanksgiving weekend made-for-TV event is usually announced two weeks earlier, after the PGA.
If Woods turns pro, he would get the sponsor's invitation given by the International Management Group and ESPN. (One spot goes to the defending champion, and two are voted by a committee.) "We would not do anything to jeopardize his amateur status or his NCAA eligibility," says Skins Game cofounder Barry Frank, "but we are definitely interested in him.