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Men at Work
April 27, 2009
Brian Gay had the best week of his career, but for everyone else the Verizon Heritage was all about making a living
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April 27, 2009

Men At Work

Brian Gay had the best week of his career, but for everyone else the Verizon Heritage was all about making a living

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Like Hamilton, Olazábal, Janzen, Lehman and Love are all searching for something, now with a little more urgency than in the years when real estate was going straight north and if you parked your money in the right place, a rich golfer could become richer yet.

Over the past decade Lehman and Love developed solid reputations as budding golf course architects. Davis's brother, Mark, worked in the Love design business full time. But across the country there is virtually no course construction going on right now, and Mark, during some weeks this year, has been back out on Tour, caddying for Davis, just as he was in 1997 when Love won the PGA Championship. Love—with a closing 74 and Joe LaCava, Fred Couples's caddie, on his bag—finished in a five-way tie for 21st, as did Lehman. For their efforts each earned $59,000. Do you know how many calls the ordinary course architect has to make to collect an overdue $60,000 payment from a client?

Lehman allows that only recently has he figured out how to manage his practice time during his off-weeks. "People call and ask me to play in charity outings," he says. "I'd say yes, and it would be six hours. Now I say, 'I can't do the outing, but why don't you auction off an hourlong teaching session with me at my club?' That gets me to the course, the teaching gets me thinking about the swing, and when I'm done, I go to work on my own stuff."

Janzen, who tied with Hamilton at Hilton Head, cannot simply enter any tournament he wants anymore, as he could for years, and he says that he has to make every chance he gets to play really, really count. Olazábal, who finished in a tie for sixth, earning $198,000, says nearly the same thing. For most of 2008 he couldn't play because of chronic tiredness. When he feels the energy to play, and the tournament is on a course that suits him, he has to make the most of it. More to the point, he has seen what has happened to his friend and mentor, Seve Ballesteros, who is recovering from a malignant brain tumor. What Seve would give now, to be able to enter a tournament and shoot 296 and make last-place money, $10,500, like Robert Garrigus did last week.

A golfer's career is a frail thing. If Brian Gay forgets that for a month or two, he is to be excused. A 10-shot win and a $1 million payday could do that to anyone. But sooner or later he'll come back to reality. They all do. Between Hamilton and Love and Janzen and Lehman and Olazábal you have the Grand Slam. But nobody was talking about their long-ago glories last week.

When the new champ put on the winner's tartan coat and picked up a microphone and addressed the throng, something came through to the Hilton Head faithful. No, Brian Gay is no Boo. Nobody is. But they could hear Gay's Alabama and Georgia boyhood in his voice. They could see him sipping a Michelob as he made his rounds. They could tell: He was one of them. He said he looks forward to returning in 2010 to defend his title. Of course he does. Hilton Head's a garden spot, and they give you a tartan coat and $1 million for winning and $10,000 for making the cut. Nice work, if you can get it.

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