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THE SHORT STUFF

Something Foul About Walk-Off at Solheim

September 18, 2003|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

The only question that needs to be answered now that the Solheim Cup has found a new home in Europe is this one: What the heck happened at the end?

It's going into the books as a 17 1/2-10 1/2 rout for Europe over the United States, but that doesn't reflect what was actually going on when 10 players competing in five matches walked off the course in Sweden at the moment Europe got enough points to clinch the victory.

It was a controversial decision, one that no one on either side seems to claim as her own and one that drew criticism from the media for messing with the history of the game, as well as upsetting the fans and skewing the record book.

The debate is pointless. It's not a big deal. The only real problem is that it made the event appear unorganized. That's it. Don't say the 50,000 pro-European fans cared. Surely they were happier they could start celebrating.

And, yes, it's true that many times matches continue in international match play even though the outcome is decided. But it's also true that sometimes they do not.

In this case, continuing to play would be like continuing to play sudden-death overtime in the NFL after a team had won, just to run the clock to zero.

A better way to handle the issue would have been to simply halve the matches still on the course instead of awarding a victory to the player who happened to be ahead.

One more suggestion, to both sides. Next time, have a plan.

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Weather update: In a word, crummy. So far, 22 of the 39 events on the PGA Tour have had some sort of rain delay. The latest was the John Deere, which didn't end until Monday because of rain last weekend. It's the third Monday finish this year. The other two were at the FBR Capital Open in June, held over because of rain; and the Ford Championship at Doral in March, held over because it got too dark for Scott Hoch to see.

That situation enabled Hoch to produce one of the most memorable quotes of the year: "I got my eyes fixed, but he didn't give me night vision."

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News item: Larry Nelson wins his first Champions Tour event in two years after a bee stings him with nine holes to play.

Reaction: Expect players to immediately begin packing hives in their bags.

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The quote of the week is from John Daly, during the shootout portion of the Boise Open event on the Nationwide Tour, as he stood over his ball on the first tee and gave it instructions: "Somewhere in Idaho, ball."

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It hasn't been officially released yet, but the early portion of the 2004 PGA Tour schedule shows only a slight change from this year, with the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic moving back to its usual dates in January.

The Hope will be played Jan. 21-25, the first tournament on the mainland after the Mercedes Championships at Kapalua on Maui Jan. 8-11 and the Sony Open at Honolulu Jan. 15-18.

After the Hope, the rest of the early schedule is Phoenix, Jan. 29-Feb. 1; Pebble Beach, Feb. 5-8; Torrey Pines, Feb. 12-15; Riviera, Feb. 20-23 and the Match Play Championship at La Costa, Feb. 25-29.

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It will be Laura Davies' turn to play in a tournament on a men's pro tour when she plays in the Korean Open, Oct. 9-12, part of the Asian Tour. Since Annika Sorenstam became the first woman in 58 years to play a men's event when she entered the Colonial in May, she has been joined by Suzy Whaley at Hartford, plus Michelle Wie, who plays this week at the Nationwide Tour event in Boise.

Speaking of Whaley, she is one of 170 players at LPGA sectional qualifying this week at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage. The low 30 players advance to final qualifying, Oct. 21-24 at Daytona Beach, Fla.

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Meanwhile, making his debut on the Nationwide Tour at Boise is 45-year-old John Cook. The 11-time tournament winner on the PGA Tour is coming back from shoulder surgery and hasn't played since he shot 78-78 and missed the cut at the Masters. He hasn't made a cut since the Nissan Open in February.

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It hasn't been such a hot year for Colin Montgomerie, who has slipped to 32nd in the rankings. This week at the German Masters, Montgomerie said he has changed caddies for the third time this year and that his back injury from last winter is still messing up his swing.

Montgomerie made no mention of his decision to ditch Callaway for Hogan clubs, a move that looks even worse now that Callaway bought the Hogan brand in its $174.4-million acquisition of Top-Flite from bankruptcy.

Why? Callaway is dumping Montgomerie as an endorsee.

Callaway is keeping 41 of the 44 players who had deals with Hogan, Top-Flite or Strata (including Jim Furyk, Justin Leonard, Lee Trevino, Hal Sutton and Bernhard Langer).

Besides Montgomerie, neither Champions Tour player D.A. Weibring nor Nationwide Tour player Matt Weibring is being kept on. Callaway is not branding Top-Flite on the Champions Tour except with Trevino, and the younger Weibring is not exempt on the Nationwide Tour.

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Dick Van Dyke will serve as host and Roger Gunn will conduct a clinic at the fifth Midnight Mission tournament Monday at California Country Club in Whittier.

The event benefits Midnight Mission, which provides resources to combat homelessness, alcoholism and drug addiction. Details: (213) 624-9258.

The fifth Jim Murray Memorial tournament will be played Oct. 27 at Wilshire Country Club. The event benefits the Murray Foundation, which awards journalism scholarships. Details: (310) 476-8948.

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