Notes DiMarco Easy Target

RSS

04 Tour Championship by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- Chris DiMarco wasn't in the best of moods after hitting a ball in the water at No. 17, leading to a double bogey.
 
Then he heard something that made him feel even worse.
 
Chris DiMarco'Go Dogs!' someone in the gallery shouted.
 
DiMarco was a good-natured target at the Tour Championship on Friday, which he knew he would be. A proud alumnus of the University of Florida, he has the school's logo on his bag and uses Gators head covers.
 
Last weekend, Florida lost to Georgia for the first time since 1997 and only the second time in 15 years. The pro-Bulldog crowd at East Lake Golf Club made sure DiMarco was aware of the outcome.
 
'Oh yeah, I heard a few 'Go Dogs' out there,' he said after shooting a 71 that left him 3 over at the midway point of the season-ending tournament. 'But it's all in good fun. I'm fine with it. Even when we were winning, they still needled me. At least they had something to hold over me this time.'
 
DiMarco did mumble '2-13' a few times when heckled by Georgia fans, which he described as 'the only thing I've got left.'
 
Well, there's one other way he could get back at the Bulldog Nation.
 
'Hopefully, Kentucky will pull it out tomorrow and I'll be able to break out my 'Go Cats' hat for the final round,' DiMarco said, rooting for the Wildcats to upset Georgia (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) on Saturday.
 
DiMarco had hoped that Steve Spurrier would return to coach the Gators after Ron Zook was fired. In fact, Spurrier was playing at DiMarco's pro-am in central Florida when the school announced Zook was out at the end of the season.
 
'We talked to [Spurrier] about the job. We tried to get him to come back,' DiMarco said. 'He seemed excited about it then.'
 
But Spurrier announced Thursday that he wasn't interested in returning to the Gators, which has DiMarco pushing a new candidate.
 
'Bob Stoops,' he blurted out at fellow Tour pro Todd Hamilton, as they both worked the autograph line following their rounds.
 
Hamilton went to college at Oklahoma, where Stoops is the coach. He has been mentioned as a candidate to replace Zook, having served as defensive coordinator under Spurrier.
 
Hamilton didn't seem too worried about Stoops going back to Florida.
 
'I read in the paper today that he's not interested,' Hamilton said.
 
DiMarco didn't let up. 'You can just say you heard it here first, Todd.'
 
Out of Place
Stephen Ames may live in Canada, but he's not a big fan of chilly weather.
 
Ames wanted to play as late as possible Saturday in the Tour Championship -- especially when he noticed that the tee times had been moved up two hours from what they were the first two rounds.
 
The motivating tactic paid off. Ames shot a 4-under 66 Friday, leaving him in second place two strokes behind Jay Haas.
 
They'll play together in the third round, in the last twosome of the day.
 
'My first goal was to get the last tee time so it would be a little warmer when I teed off,' Ames said. 'Seriously.'
 
Ames is a native of Trinidad, a balmy island near South America. But he's now a Canadian citizen living in Calgary, where the winters are frigid.
 
'Yeah, but I don't play golf in it,' he said. 'There's a difference.'
 
Ames qualified for his first Tour Championship by ranking ninth on the money list with more than $3 million in earnings. He won for the first time on the PGA Tour at the Western Open and finished in the top 10 at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.
 
Ames wasn't surprised to be playing so well at East Lake, having worked hard to change his mental approach.
 
'Believing that I was good enough to be there, in this position that I am now,' he said. 'That was the hardest thing.'
 
As for improvements in his swing, he points to a European Tour event in which he was paired with Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam -- 'the two purest ball strikers in Europe at the time.'
 
'That was a turning point for me to look for a coach that was capable of teaching me that,' Ames recalled.
 
It showed Friday. He began a run of three straight birdies at No. 3, hitting a wedge to 20 feet and sinking the putt.
 
Defending Champ Withdraws
It was one year ago that Chad Campbell earned his breakthrough win at the Tour Championship.
 
He won't be repeating.
 
Campbell withdrew after the second round because of a family illness. PGA Tour officials had no other details.
 
Campbell was already far out of contention, in a tie for 25th 13 strokes behind Haas.
 
Shot of the Day
Phil Mickelson struggled to a 72 despite hitting the best shot of the day at the very first hole.
 
After a perfect drive into the middle of the fairway, Lefty holed out a 9-iron from 136 yards for an eagle.
 
That sent the East Lake crowd into a frenzy, but Mickelson couldn't take keep it going. He barely cleared the water at par-3 No. 2 and took bogey.
 
Mickelson was 3 over after two rounds, 10 strokes behind Haas.
 
Rankin Injured
Television analyst Judy Rankin didn't take part in Friday's coverage after taking a spill near the East Lake clubhouse.
 
She banged her knees and skinned her face, prompting network officials to give her the day off. She's expected to return for Saturday's coverage by ABC.
 
ESPN, which is owned by the same company as ABC, televised the first two rounds.
 
Divots
This probably wasn't the sort of image the PGA Tour wants to project: A plane flew above East Lake during the second round pulling a sign that touted free admission to a prominent Atlanta strip club to anyone with a golf ticket. ... As Darren Clarke walked off 18, he asked the kid carrying the scoring sign if he played golf. 'Yes sir,' the youngster replied. 'You can have this,' Clarke said, pulling a club from his bag. The kid took the club with a stunned smile.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - The Tour Championship
  • Full Coverage - The Tour Championship
     
    Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.