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Notebook
Gary Van Sickle
August 20, 2001
Walker CupThe End Of an Era
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August 20, 2001

Notebook

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Numbers
Tiger Woods has won only one major in 2001, but he still tops the Tour in earnings, just as he did last season, when he was the PGA Player of the Year. Here are the players of the year who fell the farthest in earnings the year after winning the award, which was instituted in 1948.

Player of Year

Wins

Majors

$ Rank

Ken Venturi

1964

3

1

6th

1965

0

0

220th

Nick Faldo

1990

2

2

37th

1991

0

0

117th

Dick Mayer

1957

2

1

1st

1958

0

0

56th

Bob Tway

1986

4

1

2nd

1987

0

0

45th

M. O'Meara

1998

2

2

7th

1999

0

0

45th

Walker Cup
The End Of an Era

The 38th Walker Cup will be remembered for the obvious: The U.S. lost again. For the first time in amateur golf's version of the Ryder Cup, Great Britain and Ireland retained the cup by winning 15-9 at Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga. Given the Americans' 31-6-1 record in the biennial series, that makes the Great Britain and Ireland victory the historical equivalent of Navy beating Notre Dame in football twice in a row. The truth is, Great Britain and Ireland fields a superior team these days. That was made clear on Sunday when the U.S. won only one of the final eight singles matches.

The significance of this Walker Cup is less obvious: The 38th playing may have been the last to include real amateurs on the American side. We're not talking about college kids. To them, amateur golf is almost an inconvenience. Northwestern's Luke Donald and Georgia Tech's Bryce Molder, for instance, turned pro at the conclusion of the Walker Cup, not even waiting to play in next week's U.S. Amateur because they have sponsor's exemptions into the concurrent PGA Tour stop, the Reno-Tahoe Open.

The real amateurs are guys like John Harris, 49, who learned to play on a nine-hole course with sand greens in the small Minnesota town of Roseau, 10 miles from the Canadian border. Harris tried pro hockey for a year before settling into a routine of winters in the insurance business and summers on the golf course.

Joining Harris on the 10-man U.S. team were two other veteran amateurs, David Eger, also 49, and Danny Green, 44. Eger has worked for the USGA and the PGA Tour, still lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and knows everybody in golf. He lists his occupation as golf course architect. Green, a retired insurance salesman and the 1999 Mid-Am champ from Jackson, Term., is self-taught. He went to Tennessee-Martin on a tennis scholarship but switched to golf when he discovered that he had the golden touch in money matches. Eger and Green both briefly played the Tour in the '70s before rejoining the amateur ranks.

Eger, Green and Harris, a combined 1-6-1 in Sea Island, could agree on this: Ocean Forest wasn't their finest hour. In the wake of the loss, the USGA will probably rethink its practice of sprinkling in a few mid-ams among the collegians on Walker Cup teams. The strength of the Great Britain and Ireland team was its youth, and the fortysomethings are a luxury that the U.S. can no longer afford. Great Britain and Ireland had only two players over 23—Gary Wolstenholme, 40, and Nigel Edwards, 33. "There are always 10 college players who are better than the best mid-amateurs," Eger says. "I'm just glad I was selected."

Playing in his fourth Walker Cup, Harris brought a 6-0 singles mark to Sea Island but lost twice in that format and once in foursomes. "I didn't pull my weight," Harris said.

On Saturday, Eger and Molder settled for a halve when Eger cold-topped an approach shot from a dicey lie on the final hole, moving his ball a mere 10 yards. On Sunday morning, though, Eger and Molder cruised to a 7-and-6 victory over Steven O'Hara and Marc Warren. "I tried to stay out of David's way," Molder said. "He was outstanding."

Unfortunately Eger would sit out the final singles matches that afternoon. Eger, who played in only the two four-ball sessions, had suggested the strategy, and Danny Yates, the first U.S. captain to lose two Walker Cups, agreed. "It was a mistake," Yates said later.

Green, playing in his first Walker Clip, went 0 for 3. On Sunday he was in the last match on the course, which he conceded after topping his third shot, a 40-yard pitch, into a greenside bunker at 18. "I didn't win a point and we lost," Green said. "They may never put me on another team."

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