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THE SHORT STUFF

Mickelson Didn't Snub Woods

October 16, 2003|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

Why would Phil Mickelson turn down a personal invitation from Tiger Woods and the chance to make at least $150,000 even if he finishes 16th and last in the $5-million Target World Challenge?

Simple. It's a matter of scheduling, not money, according to Mickelson.

"It's flattering to be invited to a first-class event like that, and I thanked him for the invitation," he said Wednesday. "But with going down to the Presidents Cup so late and the Skins Game, I just really needed a few weeks off before I start preparing for next season.

"Unfortunately, it just didn't fit my timetable."

Mickelson played the $3.8-million Target event last year, wound up 10th and made $140,000.

That was the week after he joined Woods in the Skins Game, where he made $300,000.

When Woods said this week that Mickelson had turned down the invitation to play again in December, he did not elaborate, and that seemed to indicate a rift.

But Mickelson says he and Steve Loy, his agent, had written a letter to Woods and Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, that thoroughly explained Mickelson's reasoning.

Mickelson's first plan was to shut down after the Tour Championship, which he hasn't qualified for yet, but that isn't working because he will play the Presidents Cup in South Africa and then the Skins Game in consecutive weeks in late November.

Mickelson is playing at Disney and Tampa in a late rush to try to make the field for the Tour Championship, which he has missed only once in 10 years -- in 2001 when he stopped playing in September because of the birth of his second daughter.

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Money news: It's a race to the bank for pros on both sides of the Atlantic who have only a couple of more tournaments to earn enough to qualify for the season-ending tournaments on the PGA and the European tours.

The only difference is how high they're stacking the cash.

On the PGA Tour, the top 30 players on the money list qualify for the $6-million Tour Championship, where last place is going to be worth at least $80,000. Fred Couples is currently 30th with $1.74 million. Mickelson is 34th at $1.6 million.

Meanwhile, the top 60 players on the Order of Merit, the European Tour's money list, earn the right to play in the $4.1-million Volvo Masters Andalucia.

Jose Maria Olazabal is 60th, with about $390,000.

That means Olazabal would rank 139th on the PGA Tour's money list, right ahead of Mark O'Meara, who has $388,349.

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That rules flap that Sophie Gustafson found herself in last weekend as she posted her first LPGA victory in two years led to mentions of her relationship with LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw.

Gustafson, who is dating Votaw, said she did not ground her club before her ball moved on the 14th hole, although television replays seemed to indicate otherwise. LPGA rules officials said the replays were inconclusive, so Gustafson avoided a one-shot penalty.

On the 15th hole, Gustafson used her foot to tamp down a ball mark just off the green, but rules officials said the mark was not in her line, so she didn't get a penalty there, either.

What does this have to do with Votaw? Nothing, really, as he could hardly be accused of influencing the rules officials. It's all about perception, and that's an issue that has been waiting to manifest itself since news of Votaw's relationship with Gustafson broke six months ago.

The best advice on this incident? Limit the debate to the rules, give the benefit of the doubt to the player and leave the soap operas to daytime television, where they belong.

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News item: John Daly closes with a four-under-par 68 to win the Korean Open. He beats Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand by one shot and Simon Yates of Scotland by two shots.

Reaction: That's not exactly like holding off Woods and Ernie Els down the stretch. But a win is a win for Daly, who hasn't had one on the PGA Tour in eight years, since the 1995 British Open.

Give that man a break.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

This Week

PGA TOUR

Chrysler Classic of Greensboro

*--* * When: Today-Sunday. * Where: Forest Oaks Country Club (7,246 yards, par 72); Greensboro, N.C. * Purse: $4.5 million. Winner's share: $810,000. * TV: USA (today-Friday, 4-6 p.m., delayed; Saturday, noon-3 p.m.) and Channel 7 (Sunday, noon-3 p.m.). * 2002 winner: Rocco Mediate. * Next week: Funai Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

*--*

CHAMPIONS TOUR

SBC Championship

*--* * When: Friday-Sunday. * Where: Oak Hills Country Club (6,661 yards, par 71); San Antonio. * Purse: $1.5 million. Winner's share: $225,000. * TV: The Golf Channel (Friday-Sunday, 2-4:30 p.m.). * 2002 winner: Dana Quigley. * Next week: Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Sonoma, Calif.

*--*

PGA EUROPEAN TOUR

World Match Play Championship

*--* * When: Today-Sunday. * Where: Wentworth Club, West Course (7,072 yards, par 72); Virginia Water, England. * Purse: $3.81 million. Winner's share: $1.66 million. * TV: The Golf Channel (today-Saturday, 6:15-9:15 a.m.; Sunday, 6-9 a.m.). * Draw (from top; seedings in parentheses): Stephen Leaney (8), Australia, vs. Tim Clark (9), South Africa, winner vs. Ernie Els (1), South Africa; Vijay Singh (5), Fiji, vs. Alex Cejka (12), Germany, winner vs. Shaun Micheel (4), U.S.; Chad Campbell (6), U.S., vs. Fredrik Jacobson (11), Sweden, winner vs. Ben Curtis (3), U.S.; Len Mattiace (7), U.S., vs. Thomas Bjorn (10), Denmark, winner vs. Mike Weir (2), Canada. * 2002 winner: Els.

*--*

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