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Swing Thoughts
Edited by Cameron Morfit
March 08, 1999
Tiger Woods emphasized the loose in the interpretation of loose impediments by rallying his fans to move a VW-sized boulder at the Phoenix Open. David Duval shot a 59 to win the Bob Hope Classic, but he remained No. 2 and went snow-boarding while the Whirled Ranking was bombarded by mad Davidians. Nick Faldo, when asked to evaluate his game before the World Match Play, replied with unusual pith, "It's a mixture of karaoke and rap: It's called krap."
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March 08, 1999

Swing Thoughts

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Up Turn
In almost every category this year's West Coast tournaments surpassed their numbers from 1998.

PURSE

TV RATINGS

FIELD STRENGTH

ATTENDANCE

Mercedes

+52.9%

-5.6%

-1.9%

-66.6%

Hawaii

+44.4%

NA

+15.4%

No change

Bob Hope

+30.4%

-25.6%

+4.1%

+13.8%

Phoenix

+20.0%

-12.5%

+7.9%

-9.6%

Pebble Beach

+12.0%

-5.6%

+5.9%

+1.7%

Buick

+28.6%

+45.0%

-4.6%

+25.0%

Los Angeles

+33.3%

+20.8%

+26.1%

+27.1%

Match Play

First-year event

Tucson

+25.0%

NA

-30.6%

+8.4%

Tiger Woods emphasized the loose in the interpretation of loose impediments by rallying his fans to move a VW-sized boulder at the Phoenix Open. David Duval shot a 59 to win the Bob Hope Classic, but he remained No. 2 and went snow-boarding while the Whirled Ranking was bombarded by mad Davidians. Nick Faldo, when asked to evaluate his game before the World Match Play, replied with unusual pith, "It's a mixture of karaoke and rap: It's called krap."

From the Mercedes to the Match Play, the nine-tournament West Coast swing was bigger (by one World tour event), bolder and more engaging than ever. The swing featured a $10 million jump in prize money over '98, an 8.24% increase in strength of field and eight more rounds of TV coverage. Here were some of the bests, and worsts, of the West. On the Milk Carton Last year at this time Phil Mickelson was poised to become King of the Swing. (He wouldn't hit No. 1 on the West Coast money list until the end of the suspended AT&T on Aug. 17.) This year we were ready to declare him MIA until he advanced to the third round of the Match Play, winning $75,000 and moving from No. 44 to No. 36 on the money list, and handed the West Coast flop hat to another lefty, Steve Flesch. The '98 rookie of the year seems to be awaiting a spring thaw at No. 82. ( Mark O'Meara, whose top finish is a tie for second at the Mercedes, would get a dishonorable mention here, but his best result at this time last year was—hold on to your green jackets—a T2 at the Mercedes.)

Best Assist Horizontal rain helped horizontal Payne Stewart get back on his feet at Pebble Beach, and Bryon Bell was on the bag for Woods's win at the Buick, but nobody sends pick-me-up bouquets like Jumbo Ozaki. By ducking the Match Play, Ozaki gave a reprieve to No. 65 Nick Faldo (who lost to Woods, thereby earning his $25,000 door prize) and to Michael Bradley. Bradley, the '98 Doral champ, went from being the 63rd seed, and having a first-round date with David Duval, to the 62nd and a match with O'Meara, who was so horrid in losing 4 and 2 to Bradley that the victor remarked, " Mark O'Meara was not Mark O'Meara today." Bradley promptly lost 2 and 1 to Jos� Mar�a Olaz�bal on Thursday, collected a Jumbo-aided $50,000 and four World Ranking points, and skipped town.

Cheap Shot Award (forgoing low without warning) Duval's 59 doesn't count—we knew he had game. Nor does Woods's 62 at the Buick, for the same reason. Ted Tryba's 61 at Riviera came the week after he had opened with a pair of 65s at San Diego. What was odd were the gyrations of Jonathan Kaye, a 28-year-old free spirit who, after gurgling down a second-round 83 at the Hope, chased it with a third-round 62. The 21-stroke improvement was the biggest on Tour since 1985. Rookie of One Fifth of the Year There's no obvious choice here, so we'll go gutless, just like our Presidents Cup captains, and pick this one by the numbers. Chris Riley, a 1996 UNLV grad who lists his Nike tour-playing brother, Kevin, as his hero, is 38th on the money list with $185,058. Wing of the Swing Greg Norman has rebounded from shoulder surgery ( Tom Lehman's bid was derailed when he lost 3 and 1 to Scott Verplank in the first round at La Costa) and will receive a gold socket wrench. Norman, second by a stroke at the Australian Masters, won his first match at die Andersen, then blew a 3-up lead with four to play in losing to Eduardo Romero. Insert your own same-old-Shark joke here. Please Welcome Ted Tryba, who hit toy golf balls out of his granddad's mouth and is the new holder of the course record at Hogan's Alley.... Frank Lickliter, whom you don't want to meet in Hogan's or any other alley, now starring at No. 14 on the money list.... Michael Jordan, five-time NBA MVP and first-time Most Visible Person on the Pro-Am circuit. West Coast Toast Award This one's tough to call, what with West Coast neophytes Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie, Lee West-wood and Ian Woosnam flying thousands of miles only to lose in Round 1 at La Costa. Give Clarke his props for reaching the 18th hole, and hand the charred Wonder Bread to Monty, who departed after a dismal 5-and-3 loss to Craig Stadler and whose 15-hole West Coast swing ties Faldo's for the shortest in history.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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