Fifty years after Claude Harmon won the 12th Masters tournament, his son Claude Jr., better known as Butch, holds a major title of his own: Coach to defending Masters champ Tiger Woods. This was to be a special week for 54-year-old Butch. After joining Woods at Doral, where Tiger finished ninth, Harmon was going to meet his younger brothers Bill, Dick and Craig at Augusta, scene of their father's only professional victory. During this golden anniversary year, the Harmon brothers would play Augusta National together; it would be the first time Butch had played the course.
"Change of plans," says Butch, who had two malignant moles removed—from his back and right ear—on March 4. Las Vegas surgeon Robert Strimling "got it all," Harmon says. "The cancer was localized, but I'm still concerned. With cancer you worry that it could come back."
Woods, too, was shaken. "It's a shock," he said, "but they got it all out, so I'm O.K. with it."
Harmon was cleared to resume his teaching duties but cannot take a full swing with 30 stitches in his shoulder. There are 18 more stitches behind his ear. Family friends Bob Goalby and Jay Haas, Goalby's nephew, helped arrange the Harmons' trip to Augusta and will take Butch's place there. "I'm not going," he says. "It would bother me too much to be there and not be able to play."
"Butch was in a lot of pain for a while, but he's optimistic," says Bill Harmon, who believes his brother's cancer was due to years of exposure to the sun. As for this year's being the anniversary of their father's Masters victory, Bill says, "We just realized it ourselves. Suddenly it has a lot of meaning." For now, though, all celebrations have been put on hold.
IPGA or Bust
For a Good Tour, Call Collet
Joe Collet is either a flimflam man or a potential savior of international golf. Collet, 49, is front man for the International Professional Golfers' Association, which promises millions of dollar's in bonus money to Tour pros who sign up. "Our $3 million bonus pool is set for 1998 and '99—and that's a minimum" says Collet. Once a business manager for Seve Ballesteros, Johnny Miller and other pros, he resurfaced with a splash this year, announcing a new tour that would piggyback on 15 established events including next week's Bay Hill Invitational. Players who do well in those tournaments and sign a confidential membership agreement can tap into the bonus pool and get invited to a lucrative postseason tournament, which Collet calls the All-Star Game.
The IPGA looks good on paper, but is it as paper-thin as some of its hype? Collet has said Larry Mize is a member of the IPGA advisory board, but that comes as a surprise to Mize. Collet claims that the IPGA has 100 or so active members, but he won't name them. Nor will he identify the "commercial entity" backing his project. His revolution seems to consist of "a lot of questions but not many answers," Scott Simpson observes. Still, Collet has gotten his creation onto golf's global radar screen, and he has done it while working out of his home in Vienna, where a phone machine sometimes asks callers to try again later: "I'm taking the kids to school and running some errands."
Why should players join a renegade tour? "Because the climate is right," Collet said last week. "Other sports have players' associations. Golf needs one, too."
Does golf need bonus pools and all-star games? "The bonus pool is just an attention getter-golfers love anything with dollar signs on it," says Collet. His true goal, however, is creating a tour run by the players themselves, "not suit-coated men around a table." By 2000 such a co-op venture could keep the U.S. Tour from attracting all the world's talent, he says. Prospering in happy defiance of "pontification from Ponte Vedra Beach," it could save the European tour from a "death spiral" while preserving every pro's right to pursue huge bucks.