Sorry, Dad: The Buick Invitational is one of the few Tour stops that set aside spots for amateurs each year. Last week Charley Hoffman and Magnus Carlsson, two collegians who finished one-two in a qualifier in December, got to tee it up with the big boys. Hoffman shot 74-74 to tie Fred Couples but missed the cut. Carlsson, whose parents and coach flew in from Sweden to root for him (his golf-pro dad was his caddie), was all smiles after a first-round 76, saying, "It's a thrill to play with the greatest golfers in the world." But Mag ballooned to 86 on Friday and finished dead last.
Oh, What a Tangled Web Site: Mac O'Grady tells SI that his long-awaited Web page, now due this summer, will reveal "everything people want to know about the golf swing." The Internet's main virtue is its freedom from advertisers, says O'Grady. "That means I can give you reality with no slants, no biases—my un-censored, unfiltered, unsanitized and unhomogenized viewpoints. Trust me, I'll even blast myself."
It's a Drag: Do athletes in any other sport smoke during competition? The jarring sight of John Daly (left) or Fuzzy Zoeller lighting up on the course sets a poor example for kids and does nothing for golf's image. "It's a bad habit, and I know it. I've even heard comments from the gallery—fans telling me to quit smoking," says Tim Herron, one of the few Tour players willing to discuss the matter. "But it doesn't make me a criminal, does it?" No, but it could make a violator of Zoeller, who lit up perilously close to the door of the Golfer's Grill at Torrey Pines. Whether nicotine-addled pros know it or not, smoking indoors in public places is illegal in California.
O.K., but You Make the Measurement: At an Arizona course called Glen Canyon, a local rule reads: "If your ball lands within a club length of a rattlesnake, you are allowed to move your ball." Does everyone there use the long putter?
Flubbed Chip: Ten years ago Chip Beck finished second on the money list. Five years ago the genial former Georgia Bulldog was second in the Masters. Beck has four career victories, and once shot 59 at the Las Vegas Invitational. Yet his career is now Kevorkian fodder. With an 82-WD at the Buick, Beck has missed 27 straight cuts and won an average of $280.34 in his last 38 starts. That's about half the weekly minimum wage for a Tour caddie
All-time Leader: When Byron Nelson won $63,335 in 1945, his earnings represented 14.5% of the Tour's total purse for the season. A player that dominant in 1998 would bank at least $13.6 million.