It's not often that you get 25,000 consultants on a business decision, as Tom Kite did last week at the Ryder Cup Q school (sometimes known as the PGA Championship) at Winged Foot, just a three-wood or two from New York City. Kite needed to make two at-large picks for his team by Sunday night, and the tri-state-area citizenry were very helpful.
"Tommy, go wid Freddy!" a man from Queens opined. "Fuhgidaboudit!"
"Tom, you're stoooopid if you don't take Payne!" an expert from the Bronx offered.
"Screw 'em, Tommy!" an overserved Long Islander put forth. "Pick yourself."
Then the players would deposit their two cents in his ears. "Mags [Jeff Maggert] and Freddy [Couples]," Davis Love III kept whispering to him. "Unless I screw up...then you've got to pick me."
"Go old," the older players told him.
"Go hot," the younger players told him.
When Kite was done trying to play golf through that all day, he would go back to his hotel room at the Rye (N.Y.) Town Hilton and settle in for a long night of more chips and flops—on his laptop, that is—examining the day's leader board, the stats, the year's results and his mountains of E-mail. "You can't imagine all the E-mail," he said wearily.
Then he would work on his ups and downs. Up for an hour. Sleep for an hour. Up. Sleep. Seven and eight times a night, he would wake up and stare at the ceiling, trying to make his decision. "I'm sure I woke up my wife every night yelling out names of guys in my sleep," Kite said.
He had already committed to Love, his longtime protégé and Ryder Cup partner, promising that if Love somehow was bumped from 10th place on the points list, he would pick him anyway. "Just go play the PGA and don't worry about it," Kite told him. Freed, Love went out and blistered the Foot, moving up to fourth on the list and, oh, yeah, winning by five.