The Great Golf Ball Controversy is over (for now), and the results are in. Tiger Woods is so good, he doesn't need a golf ball to win tournaments.
It's obvious, after he won the Memorial by five shots with a Nike golf ball instead of his standard Titleist, that Woods could still beat everybody if he hits a rock or an apricot or even a salt shaker.
Here is the situation: Woods has been using a Titleist ball, basically since he started swinging a club. But in his last two tournaments, Woods has been using a Nike golf ball--and playing great with it. He finished third at the Deutsche Bank SAP Open in Germany and then blew away the field to win the Memorial--his 19th PGA Tour victory in fewer than four full years.
The official word came Thursday that Woods is switching to the Nike ball and he will play it at the U.S. Open in two weeks.
Meantime, his fellow pros are probably scratching their heads and wondering why Woods would change such a vital piece of equipment when he has been playing so well.
Why? Uh, money. And what is the one thing Woods needs less than anyone in golf? Uh, money.
But insiders say the cash involved isn't all that great by Woods' standards--about $2.5 million.
So it's possible Woods wants to prove he can win, no matter the equipment. The Nike ball is a two-piece ball, while Titleist is a wound ball.
Woods says the covers of the balls are similar, but the two-piece ball flies differently. He said wound balls may peak a little more and two-piece balls may fly a little more flat.
Whatever. Stay tuned.
PHIL HIM IN
How close is Phil Mickelson getting to Woods?
Woods is No. 1 on the money list and Mickelson is No. 3. Woods has four victories this year and Mickelson has three. Woods was going for his seventh consecutive victory at San Diego and Mickelson won it instead. Woods won the AT&T at Pebble Beach this year and Mickelson won it in 1998.
Then there is the fact that the June 16 second round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach will coincide with Mickelson's 30th birthday.
And you know what that means.
"It shows I can get old," Mickelson said.
Five years older than Woods, Mickelson has won 16 times to 19 for Woods, who also leads Mickelson in major victories, 2-0.
Mickelson didn't play the Memorial and isn't playing the Kemper Open this week to prepare for the U.S. Open. Last year at the U.S. Open, Payne Stewart beat Mickelson by one shot to win at Pinehurst.
The PGA Tour has until July 5 to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Casey Martin cart case, which it is expected to do.
Roy L. Reardon, Martin's lawyer, said he believes the PGA Tour intends to proceed with an appeal. When the Supreme Court hears arguments from both sides, which probably wouldn't happen until this fall, and then decides to hear the appeal, a final decision would not be expected until sometime in 2001.
In another cart controversy, 53-year-old JaRo Jones of Baytown, Texas, has filed a lawsuit against the USGA, seeking an injunction that would allow him to use a cart in U.S. Senior Open qualifying June 19 at San Antonio.
Jones has post-polio syndrome and neuromuscular atrophy and has trouble walking.
The use of a cart will give Jones no competitive edge over other golfers, his lawyers said in the lawsuit. But Jones would be denied the chance to compete if he does not have access to a cart, the lawsuit said.
News item: In sectional qualifying on Monday and Tuesday at 12 sites, 88 players will earn spots in the U.S. Open.
Reaction: That sound you will hear is 88 people breathing deeply.
U.S. Open qualifying is one of the most difficult but rewarding experiences in golf. If you're good enough, there's a place for you. And sometimes the story lines are extra intriguing.
For instance, at Lake Merced Golf and Country Club in Daly City, 44-year-old veteran Pebble Beach caddie Casey Boyns of Pacific Grove will tee it up. So will former tour pro Mac O'Grady, 49 . . . and two 16-year-olds from Nevada: Bryson Young of Reno and Andrew Scott of Henderson.
Johnny Miller's son, Andy, will be trying to qualify at Lake Merced, where dad will caddie.
At Bear Lakes in West Palm Beach, Chan Song Wongluekiet, the 17-year-old brother of the 13-year-old Thai twin girls who played in the Nabisco Championship, is one of 24 golfers playing for two spots.
Andy Bean, who played in the U.S. Open 15 times, is one of 193 trying for 35 spots at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md. Former major league pitcher Shane Rawley is one of 74 trying for four spots at Settindown Creek in Atlanta, which is also where Javier Sanchez will try to qualify. Sanchez learned about golf when he was a cook at a golf club.
At Shadow Hawk Golf Club in Houston, Peter Jacobsen will try to qualify for his first Open since 1996. Brian Kinchen, a tight end for the Carolina Panthers, will also be in Houston, where 28 golfers are trying to squeeze into two spots.