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THE SHORT STUFF

He's Still Working on His Net Scores

September 04, 2003|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

Byron Scott remembers the day 10 years ago when he was waiting on the Laker team bus to get to a shoot-around in Phoenix and James Worthy sat next to him, dressed in some very sporty golf attire.

He already had a 6 a.m. tee time, Worthy told Scott, then suggested they hit the driving range sometime.

Scott reluctantly agreed.

"I was hooked," Scott said. "That was it for me. I became an avid golfer. It's such an unbelievable game, and I love the competition."

That sound of a basketball hissing through the net is still ringing in Scott's ears, as coach of the New Jersey Nets, but he's also attracted to that sound when a metal wood cracks a golf ball and sends it out of sight. Well, maybe not out of sight, just far.

Scott, who was a rookie with the Lakers 20 years ago, says there's no comparison between standing over a seven-foot putt to win a match or the pressure of the NBA Finals.

"Basketball, I've been through all those wars so many times," he said. "That's not something scary for me."

Scott will be host of his 17th celebrity tournament Sept. 12 at Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena. Willie Gault, Kermit Alexander, Dick Bass, Don Ford, Keith Erickson, Marlin McKeever, Ellis Valentine and Paul Westphal are among the celebrities expected to play.

The event benefits Youth Opportunities United, which provides special needs and opportunities for foster children. Details: (760) 632-7770.

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Tiger Woods is officially on vacation, at least from competitive golf, until the $6-million American Express Championship, Oct. 2-5, at the Capital City Club in Woodstock, Ga.

Woods tied for seventh last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship and tied for fourth the week before at the NEC Invitational. He was 39th at the PGA Championship. In 15 tournaments this year, Woods has four victories, a tie for second at the Buick Open and 10 top 10s.

It's possible that Woods will wind up playing only one other PGA Tour event -- the $6-million Tour Championship, Nov. 6-9, at Champions Golf Club in Houston.

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Speaking of the Deutsche Bank tournament, there's only one more year left in its deal to play at the Tournament Players Club in Boston, and there is speculation that in 2005, it will move to Harding Park in San Francisco.

The PGA Tour has a financial stake in the refurbishing of the public track and could help influence a shift. And, as long as Woods' foundation is a beneficiary of the event, expect him to play.

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News item: Annika Sorenstam becomes the first woman to be invited to play the Skins Game, in a field that also features Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples and Mark O'Meara.

Reaction: Imagine the ratings if they could have paired her with Vijay Singh, Fulton Allem and Hootie Johnson.

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The newest member of the PGA Tour is career grinder Tom Carter, 35, who won his third Nationwide Tour event and earned an automatic promotion to the big time. He's making his debut today at the Bell Canadian Open.

Carter had never had a PGA Tour card, but it wasn't because he couldn't hit the ball a long way. In 2001 on the Nationwide Tour, he set a record for all the tours with an average driving distance of 312 yards.

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David Duval, who withdrew from the PGA Championship after opening with an 80, is 158th in the world rankings, behind Tetsuji Hiratsuka, Steve Allan, Bob Burns, David Peoples and Nick O'Hern. Duval, who is not playing the Canadian Open this week, has made two cuts since the first week of March.

Adam Scott, who won the Deutsche Bank Championship for his first PGA Tour victory, is not going to play full time in the U.S. But Justin Rose, who earned $340,000 at the TPC of Boston and has $599,874 so far, is a cinch to finish in the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list and earn his card for 2004.

Rose, a European Tour star like Scott, dropped hints he might consider a full-time presence on the PGA Tour next year.

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The only player to win two majors this year was Tom Watson, and who would have expected to read those words?

In fact, Watson has won the last two majors he has played, both of them on the Champions Tour, the Senior British Open and the Tradition.

Watson has been no worse than second in his last four Champions Tour majors, a list that also includes the U.S. Senior Open and the Senior Players Championship. In those four tournaments, he's a combined 51 under par and has won $1.049 million.

Include his spirited showing at the U.S. Open, where he opened with a 65 at Olympia Fields, and his tie for 18th at the British Open at Royal St. George's, you could make a case for Watson as the player of the year in professional golf.

By the way, feel free to wish Watson a happy birthday. He turns 54 today.

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The quote of the week is from Rocco Mediate, who was second at the Deutsche Bank Championship and improved his world ranking to 20th. It was his first top 10 since Pebble Beach and only his ninth tournament in the last 4 1/2 months after deciding to spend more time with his family even though his ranking fell to 38th.

Said Mediate: "My world ranking has dropped, but my ranking with my children and wife, I'm No. 1."

The second quote of the week is also from Mediate, who pointed out that both Scott and Rose are 23.

Said Mediate: "We've got our hands full."

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In her last tournament before the Solheim Cup next week in Malmo, Sweden, Sorenstam plays against 25 of the top 30 players on the LPGA money list beginning Friday at Tulsa, where she defends one of her 11 titles from 2002.

Sorenstam not only leads the LPGA Tour in the two most important categories -- four victories and $1.497 million in earnings -- she also leads in player-of-the-year points, rounds under par, greens in regulation, scoring average, top 10s and driving distance. Other than that, she's mired in just as bad a slump as Tiger.

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