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FOCUS ON GOLF / THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Wanted: Bold, Young Adventurer to Stare Down Tiger

November 02, 2000|THOMAS BONK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

All of you players who are trying to knock off Tiger Woods, step forward . . . and take your place beside Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, Hal Sutton, Colin Montgomerie and Darren Clarke.

Woods, of course is younger than all of that bunch, which would seem to indicate that there will be a need for some new blood to take on the task of toppling Woods in the near future.

Just who those players might be is open for debate.

Hardly anyone is as primed for greatness as was Woods, who has five major titles among his 24 victories since he turned pro in September 1996. It's anybody's guess who is next, but there are a few candidates out there with a chance.

* Sergio Garcia, 20, Spain: It's hard to believe Garcia is barely out of his teens. Like Woods at the same age, Garcia appears to be growing into his body. Although smaller than Woods at 5 feet 11 and 160 pounds (Woods is 6-2 and 180), Garcia is a big hitter with a soft touch.

Even though his best results this year on the PGA Tour were two third-place finishes, Garcia is No. 47 on the money list with $896,838.

* Charles Howell IV, 21, U.S.: As a 17-year-old, Howell battled Woods in the 1996 U.S. Amateur and distinguished himself, even though he lost in the quarterfinals. He turned pro this year and in 11 events won $263,533. That's not enough to finish in the top 125, so he's destined to go to Qualifying School for 2001.

Howell made seven cuts, was third at the John Deere Classic in July and tied for 14th at the Texas Open.

* David Gossett, 21, U.S.: The 1999 U.S. Amateur champion at Pebble Beach, Gossett left the University of Texas early and turned pro after he missed the cut at the British Open.

He tied for 54th at the Masters and tied for 15th at Loch Lomond in the British Open warmup, but he missed the cut in all seven events he played after turning pro.

* Aaron Baddeley, 18, Australia: Insiders were not surprised when the precocious Baddeley turned pro Wednesday. He impressed countryman Greg Norman and Montgomerie, among others, when he won the 1999 Australian Open as an amateur.

Baddeley was born in New Hampshire and his father was the chief mechanic for Mario Andretti's racing team, but moved to Australia at the age of six months.

At 6-1 and 185 pounds, Baddeley is a big hitter. His victory at the Australian Open was record-setting. He was the first amateur to win the event in 39 years and also the youngest champion.

* Adam Scott, 20, Australia: Scott was a DQ at the first stage of PGA Tour Qualifying last week--because he didn't show up. The reason: He already qualified for the European PGA Tour, where he intends to play in 2001.

Scott played six PGA Tour events this year and missed the cut in five. He tied for 44th at the Air Canada Championship the first week of September and made $10,200. He is destined to make a lot more.

* Tim Clark, 24, South Africa: Why not take a flier on someone from the Buy.com Tour? Clark won two tournaments and made $273,206, which placed him No. 2 on the tour's money list.

He automatically earned his 2001 PGA Tour card with his position on the money list.

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