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"The Majors"; by John Feinstein; Little Brown and Co., $25

May 04, 1999|THOMAS BONK

What: "The Majors," by John Feinstein (Little Brown and Co., $25)

Because the professional golf season stretches from the week after New Year's Day to just before Christmas, it has grown increasingly difficult to tell one tournament from another, or which is more important--the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic or the Shell Houston Open.

The answer, of course, is that nothing really matters as much as the major championships--the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA.

Majors define a player's career, make history and produce the best stories. That's what John Feinstein banked on when he wrote his new book "The Majors."

Feinstein, who also wrote "A Good Walk Spoiled," follows the same story-telling path in "The Majors," picking a core group of players in 1998 and then telling their stories as they appear on golf's grandest stages.

Feinstein, who honed his reporting skills as a political and sports reporter at the Washington Post, is at his best collecting information and then presenting it in a no-frills manner.

He's also not bad with one-liners.

Writes Feinstein of the split between agent Hughes Norton and Tiger Woods: "Earl [Woods, Tiger's father] decided Tiger had been over-scheduled, which was a little bit like Bill Clinton claiming it was his lawyer's fault that he was oversexed."

Sure, Woods is a prominent player in the book and so are David Duval, Mark O'Meara, Fred Couples and Davis Love III. But there are also players such as Jay Williamson, a Nike Tour survivor.

Feinstein said golfers are the easiest professional athletes with which to deal.

"I think they understand what [reporters] do more than any other group of athletes," he said. "They're generally older, wiser, more mature and most have struggled before they became successful and therefore have an appreciation for how lucky they are."

"The Majors" is a good walk, unspoiled, through an interesting year.

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