Wadkins was prepared to return to the Nike tour if he hadn't earned an exemption. His primary goal is to sharpen his skills for the Senior tour, for which he will be eligible in July 2001. "I love golf too much to give it up," he says. "While I feel I'm good enough to keep playing [on the PGA Tour], I had decided that Bobby Wadkins needs to be playing golf 25 weeks a year somewhere to get ready for the Senior tour."
Unlike his brother Lanny, a 21-time winner on Tour and the 1985 PGA player of the year, Bobby wasn't certain that he wanted to play golf professionally and considered a career in pro baseball. Yet despite his winless streak he's amazed at what he has accomplished in the game. "I've presented George Bush with a flyfishing rod, and my brother and I have eaten with presidents and three-star generals," he says. "To think two brothers from a small rural town in Chesterfield County, Virginia, could do all that—now that's unbelievable."
As for the streak, he professes little concern. "The press likes to write about it," says Wadkins, who has finished second six times, losing twice in playoffs. "To tell you the truth, I never really think about it until I finish second and people start asking me questions. Don't get me wrong—the Number 1 reason I'm out here is to win, but I'd much rather have the career I've had than win one or two tournaments."
Unlikely Hero Emerges In the Dunhill Cup
An introverted young South African with an effortless swing last week led his country to its first victory in the Dunhill Cup. No, it wasn't Ernie Els who starred, but rather 28-year-old Retief Goosen, who won all five of his matches at St. Andrews, including a crucial four-stroke victory over Sweden's Jesper Parnevik in Sunday's final round. South Africa now holds the Dunhill and World Cup titles.
In 1987 Goosen was struck by lightning while playing golf in his northern Transvaal hometown of Pietersburg, resulting in a ruptured eardrum, a heart murmur and burns. After spending two months in the hospital, Goosen recovered to become, along with Els, one of South Africa's most celebrated golfers. In 1990 he won the South African Amateur and was named the South African tour's rookie of the year one year later. In 1993, his first full season on the European tour, he finished second at the Dubai Desert Classic and went on to win three times in South Africa. But he has only won twice since, and his performance in the majors, where he has never finished higher than 10th, has been especially underwhelming.
His heroics at St. Andrews, however, were somewhat over-shadowed by the record-breaking performance of Joakim Haeggman in Sweden's semifinal upset of the U.S. In his win over Justin Leonard, Haeggman shot an Old Course-record 27 on the front nine. Said Leonard of Haeggman, who would lose to Els in the finals, "All I said was 'Good putt,' 'Good shot,' 'Nice drive,' 'That's perfect.' I made sure I kept the card real neat because I knew it was going on a wall somewhere."
The Monster Keeps Its Bite
The Blue Monster at Doral Resort and Country Club, site of the Tour's Doral-Ryder Open every March, won one and lost five over the summer. Due to the nearly 50 inches of rain that fell on the Miami area between June and September, five of the course's 117 bunkers were damaged so severely that they were simply filled in. That's not to say the Blue Monster has become a stroll in the park. The resort added a challenging pin position to the infamous closing hole, a 435-yard par-4 that this year already ranks as the third-hardest (4.404 stroke average) finisher on Tour.
Before the change the back-left quarter of the 18th green sloped too severely toward a lake to cut a hole there. That section was recently raised nine inches to accommodate a pin position. To reach that part of the green, players will have to carry their approach shots over the lake. "The new flag will make things a lot more interesting on Sunday," says Steve Friedlander, Doral's director of golf.