It's never going to be the same when I go to a golf tournament because something will be missing, and I'll know just what it is. Jim Murray's not there.
There's so much to be thankful for, though. One of the best things about covering golf was being able to sit next to Murray for weeks at a time at some of the world's greatest golfing real estate.
From St. Andrews to Riviera, from Winged Foot to Shinnecock Hills, from the Olympic Club to the Country Club, believe me, it was a thrill to share a desk, a telephone and a conversation with Murray.
Maybe the best golf course to be at with Murray was Riviera, where he seemed to have a story for every blade of grass. Even for a tree. That would be the tree near the 12th green, which he said Humphrey Bogart used to lean against during the Los Angeles Open, sipping from a flask.
Murray knew Bogart, of course, including the time Murray was a newspaper reporter and was dispatched to a downtown bar to cover a domestic dispute that arose when Mrs. Bogart bounced an ash tray off Mr. Bogart's head.
But that's another Murray story. Hopefully, we'll remember them all.
There were a couple of player meetings last week during the tournament at Castle Rock, Colo., that aren't going to make the PGA Tour very happy.
The meetings, attended by 24 players, were about something called the Tour Players Assn., a loosely knit group led by Mark Brooks, Danny Edwards and Larry Rinker that wants the PGA Tour to open its books to them and allow them more input in the decisions of the Tour.
The group isn't a union, since PGA Tour players are independent contractors and can't form a union. But as an association, it could have bargaining power, if it achieves some clout.
What's it all about? The usual: power and money. With players competing for $96.4 million in purses on the PGA Tour this year and $129.8 million in 1999, the numbers are staggering. Three tournaments in 1999 will have $5-million purses.
"Right now it's a business, and when you can't see what's happening with it, that's when you're blindly led," Brooks said. "I reserve faith like that for religion."
It's hard to argue that the players aren't getting rich. About 20 players are expected to pass $1 million in prize money this year. In 1988, there was one.
The players seem to want better player representation in policy decisions, travel allowances and minimums for players who miss the cut. Stay tuned.
ROLLING A SEVEN
For what it's worth, only seven players made the cut in all four majors: Mark O'Meara, Tiger Woods, John Huston, Brad Faxon, Ernie Els, Fred Couples and Phil Mickelson.
O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion, had the best stroke average, 70.50, and Woods was second, 70.94.
Peter Jacobsen is many things: funny, quotable, opinionated, talented, to name a few. You can add irritating, which is what Hughes Norton, Woods' agent at IMG, felt after some remarks Jacobsen made this week at Jacobsen's charity event, the Fred Meyer Challenge.
Jacobsen said Woods needed to play more charity events and he needs to smile more.
"Peter, I guess, he's forgotten or doesn't realize that Tiger does six charity days a year for the Tiger Woods Foundation," said Norton, who used to represent Jacobsen. "And on the Tuesday [before] the [event in Colorado] he was in Aspen, helping raise $500,000 in Glenn Frey's kids' tournament.
"Plus, if we say yes to Peter's tournament, what do we say to Tom Lehman's in Minneapolis and Fred Couples' in Seattle and Brad Faxon's in New England? It's a fine line."
As for the smiling-on-the-course issue, Norton said Woods can only be himself.
"I guess Pete wants Tiger to be Peter Jacobsen or Fuzzy Zoeller or Lee Trevino. Tiger cannot be someone he is not."
LATER THAN YOU THINK
News item: Mark James was named Europe's Ryder Cup captain on Wednesday.
Reaction: Why the rush? Ben Crenshaw was named as the U.S. captain, what, more than a year ago?
James, 44, played on seven Ryder Cup teams, but never on the winning one until Europe upset the U.S. in 1995 at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y.
At this stage in his career, James seems more interested in his garden of beans and peas back home in Ilkley, England, than most golf. This may be a welcome change in choice of crop from former European Ryder Cup captain Seve Ballesteros, who specialized in cultivating baloney.
The 1999 Ryder Cup will be played at the Country Club at Brookline, Mass.
ON THE MOVE
The LPGA showed some life this week when it announced a new $1-million tournament in Columbus, Ohio, for 1999, amid speculation it's soon going to add two more tournaments--one of them to be played in Austin, Texas--and thus increase the number of official money events from 42 to 45.
SHE'LL BE DE-PRESSED
It's official. Hall of Fame golfer Nancy Lopez has become a member of the media. She has joined Golf for Women as playing editor. Can't wait until she gets her first 'No comment.'