FOR PEETE'S SAKE
The PGA Tour adopted a new rule last week. The Cal Peete Rule, as it was immediately dubbed, holds that a player must complete every round he starts in order to be eligible for the game's many statistical honors, among them the Vardon Trophy, which goes to the golfer with the lowest scoring average.
Peete won the Vardon in 1984 with a 70.56 average, despite dropping out of several tournaments, including the U.S. Open, in which he collapsed in a bunker from heat exhaustion; other withdrawals seemed to coincide with poor play in a particular round. He's currently second on the money list ($289,030) and fifth in the Vardon averages (70.53). Earlier this year he pulled out of the Sea Pines Heritage Classic following a front-nine 41 and was disqualified at the Tournament of Champions after he hockey-putted—i.e., slapped around a moving ball—on the fifth hole and lost count of his strokes. That fit of temper resulted in a fine and forfeiture of his $5,000 guarantee.
It used to be that if a player failed to finish a round or was disqualified for not signing his card, his score didn't count toward the Vardon standings; expunging a bad day was a simple matter. The new rule is harsh in that it doesn't allow for real injury or illness. But the potential abuses the rule addresses were great; permitting a golfer to erase a bad outing by not signing his scorecard is like letting a baseball player throw out some of his less fruitful at bats to improve his batting average. As for Peete, he sounded properly contrite when told of the rule, saying, "I can promise that I'll return a signed scorecard. I'll post a score."
THE SCALES OF JUSTICE
A piscatory version of the Bernhard Goetz case is unfolding in rural New York, where a trout farm foreman named Charles Fontana is accused of blasting away at a trio of teenagers to protect his fish. Late one night last month Fontana, who runs the state hatchery in little Debruce, heard a couple of humans in his breeding pens. The alleged trespassers had climbed over the hatchery fence and were spearing seven-to-nine-pound brood trout with a three-pronged frog gig. Fontana, who lives on the grounds, had his wife call the state police. He also grabbed a 16-gauge shotgun and some shells loaded with bird shot.
Police say Fontana got to the scene of the crime and pumped off a couple of rounds at two figures. They scaled an eight-foot fence and fled for the cover of the surrounding woods. A third youth waiting in a car outside the hatchery gunned the motor and shot past Fontana, who allegedly popped off another load. He missed.
Fontana got another chance because the getaway car went down a dead end. He sprayed 16-gauge pellets into the windshield and a headlight. The driver stopped and surrendered.
When state police arrived, they charged the driver with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. Two other kids slightly seeded with bird shot were found cowering in the woods. They were charged with criminal trespass, also a misdemeanor, plus violations of the state fish and game regulations that prohibit abuse of trout. All three were released on $1,500 bail.
But the state police also cited Fontana for reckless endangerment and assault, which are felonies. New York takes exception to people who fire at unarmed trout burglars.