Notes Skins Game Stale Haney Rumors

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TULSA, Okla. -- The Skins Game announced its field Tuesday for its 25th anniversary edition, and the foursome was no less stunning than when it first was reported last week -- Stephen Ames, Fred Couples, Zach Johnson and Brett Wetterich.
 
The last name is who turned most heads. Wetterich qualified by finishing 10th on the PGA TOUR money list last year, and the nine guys ahead of him all turned down the invitation. Even he was surprised.
 
'I couldn't believe it,' Wetterich said. 'I thought my agent was (kidding) around with me.'
 
Wetterich, one of the biggest hitters on the PGA TOUR, said he plays some variation of a Skins game with his buddies, but he figures the most he ever played for was $20 a skin.
 
'So it's going to be quite a difference,' Wetterich said.
 
Money might be one of the issues that has caused the LG Skins Game to lose so much luster over the last decade or more. Even when Tiger Woods played, what used to be the premier event in the silly season became an afterthought.
 
The Skins Game began in 1983 with a $1 million purse, when the average purse on the PGA TOUR was $390,000. This year, the average PGA TOUR purse is over $5.6 million, and the four players are still competing for $1 million at the Skins Game.
 
'We have thought about that,' said Mark Steinberg, global managing director of golf for IMG. 'The problem is, what to do you do? Does it matter? These guys get paid astronomical amounts of money.'
 
Ames won eight skins last year to earn $590,000. Third place at the British Open paid more than that.
 
Nearly two dozen players already have earned more than $2 million this year on the PGA TOUR, so maybe it might add some entertainment value if they played for their own money.
 
'We have thought about them putting up their own money,' Steinberg said. 'Obviously, it hasn't gotten very far.'
 
He also said there might be gambling issues with the PGA TOUR that would have to be sorted out.
 
'There are a bunch of minds talking about how to invigorate it,' he said.
 
Money isn't the only reason the silly season is starting to lose its appeal. With golf being played around the world, not to mention around the calendar, there are plenty of alternatives. The Skins Game is being held opposite the World Cup this year. Phil Mickelson, who qualified for the Skins Game by winning THE PLAYERS Championship, will be in Asia earlier that month.
 
HANEY STATUS:
Hank Haney was with Tiger Woods early in the week at the Bridgestone Invitational, where Woods won by eight shots, but was conspicuously missing at Southern Hills when his prized pupil captured his 13th major.
 
That led to some scuttlebutt that he was on his way out.
 
Far from it.
 
Haney was home in Dallas tending to his wife, watching Woods tie a major championship record with a 63 in the second round that sent him to a two-shot victory over Woody Austin and his first major of the year. Woods now has gone three straight years winning a major.
 
'My man seems to be doing pretty good,' Haney said Sunday morning.
 
Haney has kept up a frenetic schedule over the past several years, and he likely will spend less time on the road, especially since Woods requires less maintenance with his swing. Woods has won 19 times and five majors since the start of 2005 season.
 
FINAL GROUP:
Tiger Woods' victory at Southern Hills ended what might have been a statistical rarity. For the first time in the majors this year, the winner came out of the final group.
 
Zach Johnson played in the third-to-last group at the Masters, Angel Cabrera was in the fifth-to-last group at the U.S. Open and Padraig Harrington, while he won in a playoff at the British Open, also was in the third-to-last group in the final round.
 
It should be no surprise that Woods won from the final group. Not only is he 13-0 when he has at least a share of the lead going into the final round, every PGA champion has come out of the final group dating to Steve Elkington in 1995.
 
The best major for a comeback? Lately, that would be the U.S. Open. The last winner to come out of the final pairing Sunday was Retief Goosen at Shinnecock Hills in 2004.
 
MAJOR SUMMER:
Tiger Woods has won the PGA Championship in August more than any player in history, a quirky fact that shows how much the majors used to move around the calendar.
 
Five-time champion Walter Hagen won the PGA three times in September, once in October and his last in November. Jack Nicklaus, the other five-time champion, won his first PGA Championship in July 1963 when it was held in Dallas, three in August, and one in February when the 1971 PGA was held in Florida.
 
The PGA Championship once was held in December, and the British Open was routinely held in October and November, and one time even in May. The first Masters was held in March.
 
That leaves January as the only month no one has won a major.
 
DIVOTS:
Davis Love III has missed the cut in the majors (11) more times than he has made the cut (9) since 2003. ... International captain Gary Player probably wasn't aware of this when he announced his two picks for the Presidents Cup team. Monday was 'International Lefthanders Day,' and he wound up taking Nick O'Hern and Mike Weir. ... Woody Austin, John Senden, Simon Dyson and Boo Weekley all recorded their first top 10 in a major at the PGA Championship.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Tiger Woods was in the top 10 in every major statistical category at the PGA Championship except for driving distance (14th).
 
FINAL WORD:
'Emotion. I don't know whether Woody will bring golf or bang himself in the head.' -- U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus, on what Woody Austin brings to the Presidents Cup.
 
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