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Notebook
Jaime Diaz
November 13, 2000
A Second Opinion
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November 13, 2000

Notebook

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Numbers

One great week can make up for an otherwise dismal year. Among the top 125 on the final PGA Tour 2000 money list, these players made the largest percentage of their season's earnings in a single week.

 

Earnings

Best finish Pct.

Billy Andrade

$1,004,827

1st 76%

Gary Nicklaus

$403,982

2nd 75%

Dennis Paulson

$865,931

1st 62%

Matt Gogel

$604,199

2nd 58%

Jim Carter

$964,346

1st 56%

A Second Opinion

Gary Player can be a bit of a scold. Legend has it he once sized up a pudgy 10-year-old autograph seeker and slowly intoned, "I know your parents love you and don't want to hurt your feelings, but son, I must tell you: You're fat." Golfers, though, forgive Player such transgressions because they know that his burning desire to improve is what made him such a fierce and feared competitor.

When Player was in his prime, he knew he continually had to find ways to get better if he was to keep up with the likes of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. History shows that Player succeeded. He is clearly the worthiest second banana in golf history. When Palmer ascended to the throne by winning the 1958 Masters and then reigned until '62, Player was always nipping at his heels, winning three majors to Arnie's six during that period. When Nicklaus unseated Palmer and then remained No. 1 until the mid-'70s, Player doggedly remained next best, winning six more majors through '78 and twice defeating Nicklaus in the 36-hole final of the Piccadily World Match Play.

So who better than Player to ask, What will it take to challenge Tiger Woods? "You must take the measure of the best and then do what is necessary," says Player, who turned 65 on Nov. 1. "When I came to America and saw Arnold's forearms and the power he applied through the ball, I went to the gym and made myself stronger. With Jack, I knew I would never have his size and distance, but I believed that I could be fitter and, as a result, more mentally sharp. So I improved my diet and my preparation."

For all of David Duval's time in the weight room and Vijay Singh's hours on the practice tee, Player doesn't see the necessary degree of single-mindedness in those chasing Woods, who, at 24, has put more statistical and psychological distance between himself and his peers than any player in history. "I'm a tremendous Tiger Woods fan, and I take my hat off to his talent and his dedication," says Player. "He's the most dominant golfer who ever lived. He's already wealthy beyond belief, but that proves he doesn't put money before his dream. I'm worried whether that's true of the other players. I read about them saying that Tiger is unbeatable, or joking that they're going to play where he doesn't. A real champion cannot allow himself to say those things.

"Then they skip these huge events, like the one in Spain last year where they were playing for $5 million in the season finale. One of them [ Duval] says, 'That's a seven-hour flight. I'm going to go fishing instead.' What does that tell Tiger? I would've gotten in a rowboat and not stopped until I hit the Rock of Gibraltar. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm afraid it's true: These guys have too much money."

For the player not corrupted by money, Player offers this advice: "I would watch everything Tiger does and then do more. In the gym, on the practice tee, I'd make a point of leaving after he does. Whatever mental exercises he does, double them. That's what Hogan did, what Trevino did, what I did. Don't let anyone, even Tiger, outwork you."

There's one more thing a player chasing Woods must never do: think of himself as No. 2. "I never went into a tournament thinking Jack Nicklaus was going to beat me," says Player. "That never entered my mind."

Back to School
Young Phenoms Fall Short

Charles Howell III and David Gossett, two hot prospects who dropped out of college this year and turned pro, will be back in school later this month—Q school, that is. Howell, 21, who in June left Oklahoma State a year early after winning the NCAA title, looked like a good bet to make the top 125 on the Tour's money list and earn a card for 2001 when he finished third at the John Deere Classic in July and won $176,800. But in his 13 starts after that, Howell missed six cuts and won only $87,533.

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