In his article about Tiger Woods's thrilling victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (SI, Feb. 14), Alan Shipnuck described me as "unlikeable," "irritating," "stultifying," "soul-sucking" and "not funny." None of that bothered me. In fact, my wife, Anna, read the article and said, "He left out ugly."
Mr. Shipnuck also attributed Tiger's difficulty in the early rounds to my "glacial pace" of play in front of him. On that score I would like to set the record straight for Alan. In the AT&T Pro-Am, I'm the am. I'm the 22 handicapper. But don't lei that confuse you. I love and respect the game of golf too much to ever disregard its rules and etiquette.
This was my first trip to the Pro-Am, although I've been playing off and on for 20 years. To gel ready for the tournament I spent six months drilling with a pro. Believe it or not, that swing you saw was an improvement.
The night before the first round I saw the pairings and freaked out. I was ahead of Tiger and behind David Duval. What are they doing to me? I promised myself that whenever I got in trouble, I'd pick up my ball, put it in my pocket and move on. I did. In the first round, at Poppy Hills, I picked up on the first four holes. I told the scorer in our group, "In case you're interested, I'm going for the record: 72 straight pick-ups." The only time I didn't pick up was on Pebble's 10th hole in the third round when my tee shot landed on the beach. I wanted to go right into my pocket again, but my pro partner, Eric Booker, told me to keep hitting. I did, battling kelp, a pack of dogs and high tide to get my ball on the green. Later people told me, "That was great TV." I'm pretty sure that's the same thing they said to the "Agony of Defeat" guy.
Remarkably, the 10th hole took no longer to play than any other. Truth be told, during the third round our foursome had to wait on every tee box for the group in front of us, and that group was waiting for the one ahead of it. This was the case that day at Poppy Hills and at Spyglass as well. I know I'm no pro, but I'm not bad enough to cause 6�-hour rounds on three courses simultaneously.
As a matter of fact, two days after Pebble, Tiger and I joked about the situation when we played 18 holes together in a pro-am at Torrey Pines. Just so you know, one of us shot 68.