Unfortunately, that isn't always practical. In the first round of the '93 Women's Open at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind., that policy resulted in a disaster: For the first time lack of daylight, not bad weather, prevented a field from finishing an entire 18 holes. Rounds lasting 5� hours were the norm, and at one point the wait on the 6th hole was 40 minutes. The USGA was so disturbed when 15 players had to finish the first round on Friday, that the field was reduced to 150 from 156 the next year.
While play never had to be suspended because of darkness at Pine Needles, the players' patience was sorely tested. A rash of out-of-bounds shots and unusual rulings—several involving a grounded TV blimp that kept getting in the way—helped create a horrific front-nine average of more than three hours on Thursday. Though all 150 players completed play, a picture of the last group standing on the 18th green in the twilight at nearly 8:30 p.m. suggested a new meaning for the phrase being mooned.
Much has been made of two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North's not getting a free pass to Oakland Hills, site of his 1985 victory, but what about the snub to Fuzzy Zoeller? The Fuzzmeister won the Open in 1984 and was fifth on the money list in 1994. Still, he had a horrible year in '95 because of a back injury, and the USGA Championship Committee limited invitations to Jack Nicklaus, Jumbo Ozaki and Tom Watson. The difference between North and Zoeller is that Fuzzy took it like...like Fuzzy Zoeller.
"Hell, I'm a past champion. I feel it's my obligation as a golfer to try to qualify," said Zoeller, who planned to tee it up in a sectional on June 4 in Tenafly, N.J. Although he has not been forced to play the Open's 36-hole qualifier in more than a decade, Zoeller was raring to go. "For god's sakes, it's a major championship," he said. "Why should I have second thoughts?"
They seemed inseparable—LPGA rookie sensation Karrie Webb hit the shots while her fianc�, Todd Haller, caddied and counseled. Together they won the HealthSouth Inaugural and the Sprint Titleholders, and surged to the top of the money list.
But the stress that comes with instant success, especially at such a young age—Webb is 21, Haller, 25—apparently has caused a rift in their relationship. Haller abandoned Webb in mid-tournament three weeks ago in Japan and was not on her bag the following week for the Corning (N.Y.) Classic, where Webb came in 75th, the worst finish of her short LPGA career, or during the U.S. Women's Open, in which she placed 19th.
At the Open, Webb turned aside inquiries about Haller. "I've answered a lot of questions this year," she said. "My personal life is my personal life." Haller, however, had indicated at the Titleholders that Webb's dream season was not all that it appeared to be. "Oh, god, it's the hardest thing I've ever done," he told reporters. "Twenty-four hours a day, every day.... There's an incredible strain on the relationship. We try to leave the game on the golf course, but she's got to let off the steam at someone."
The Short Game