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SPORTS WEEKEND | GOLF / THOMAS BONK

Picking the PGA Tour's Player of Year Is a Gimme

October 23, 1998|THOMAS BONK

Is there any suspense that can be wrung out of the PGA Tour the rest of the way?

Will John Daly swear off chocolate? Will Tim Finchem admit that the Tour Players Assn. has a lot of good points after all? Will the USGA say it was just kidding about that club-testing thing? Will Davis Love III, P.H. Horgan III and Tommy Armour III find out they're related?

Supposedly, there is one suspenseful thing--the PGA Tour player of the year.

It's a two-man race, of course, between Mark O'Meara and David Duval, and the fact that in some circles the outcome is even in debate seems downright laughable.

It's O'Meara, who already has been named PGA of America player of the year.

If winning two majors--the Masters and British Open--doesn't qualify as player-of-the-year material, then they're going to have to fill in Rae's Creek with concrete and turn the Claret Jug into an ashtray, because everything you know is wrong.

Now, you have to say Duval has had a very nice year, the kind that winning four tournaments and setting a record with $2.46 million in prize money can bring. But do victories at Tucson, Houston, Akron and Williamsburg really compare to the Masters and the British Open?

Of course not.

Careers and players are made by winning major championships, not adding up all the Tucson Chrysler Classics and Shell Houston Opens you've won.

The vote is up to the players, which is going to be very interesting.

"I guess it would depend on which criteria you decide is more important," Phil Mickelson said. "The number of wins and the overall money they generate or where the wins come and their historical significance."

Yeah, that's a tough one all right.

The suspense is thick. You can cut it with the Tucson Chrysler Classic trophy or you can cut it with a big old piece of history.

HE'S THE ONE WITH THE TROPHY

From Mark McCumber, who used to be mistaken for O'Meara: "What he's done this year, I think he's made it easier to tell us apart."

GOING, GOING . . .

It might be on this week's schedule as the Walt Disney World Golf Classic, but it's really the Last Roundup.

The Disney is the last full-field, official money tournament on the PGA Tour calendar, which makes it the drop-dead, final, see-ya, ultimate, end-of-the- road chance to make the top 125 on the money list and thus keep a tour card for 1999.

Right now, there are a lot of players trying to cram themselves into that magic top 125. Uneasy rests No. 125, otherwise known as Dave Stockton Jr., whose money total of $218,934 is under siege by a number of followers, some notable, some not.

Mike Weir, a 28-year-old rookie left-hander from Canada, is No. 126, and Horgan, 38, who leads the tour in trips to qualifying school (six and counting), is at No. 127.

Then there is David Ogrin, whose two-year exemption for winning the LaCantera Texas Open is officially up Sunday. Ogrin, 40, is No. 131. Bob Gilder, 48, a six-time PGA Tour winner, is at No. 141 and looking at qualifying school, the same as No. 142 Rick Fehr, No. 147 D.A. Weibring and No. 149 Sandy Lyle.

Fehr, 36, who has won twice on tour, gave himself a shot when he won $60,000 last week at the Las Vegas Invitational and moved up from No. 173.

The 90-hole final of the PGA Tour qualifying school is Nov. 18-23 at La Quinta.

CHECK, DOUBLE CHECK

Meanwhile, on a somewhat higher level, there are those who are safely into the top 125, but who are trying to get their names on the Big-Money party list.

The 30 players who have made the most money by the end of the Disney get a chance at even more next week in the $4-million Tour Championship at Atlanta's East Lake Golf Club. First place is worth $720,000.

Sitting uncomfortably at No. 30 is Andrew Magee, whose tenuous situation is softened slightly by the fact that he has made $890,702 this year. At No. 31 is Stewart Cink, who is about $62,000 behind Magee. Skip Kendall is about $34,000 behind Cink.

Magee, Cink and Kendall are playing the Disney. But No. 29 on the money list isn't. That's Tom Watson, who has won $897,385.

THE DALY NEWS

Daly in Las Vegas?

Hey, it's a match made in the casino. The possibilities were endless last week when Daly played the Las Vegas Invitational. He shot a 77 on Sunday and won only $4,586, but then he probably could have lost a lot more.

A reformed gambler, Daly slipped into the casino at the Rio, spotted some friends and told them he would give them money if they would gamble for him. Then he changed his mind.

"I didn't like the feeling," Daly told John Strege of Golf World. "It's tough. I like all the fun, and casinos are so much fun. But I just got scared."

Another thing Daly didn't feel too good about was that nobody comped his hotel room. Daly said he asked Bally's, but was turned down.

"All the money I've blown with them, they wouldn't even give me a room because I'm not gambling. I think it's very rude."

You can see his point, what with all he contributed to their construction.

NICKLAUS UPDATE

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