Dear Hootie


Perhaps more than anybody else in sport, William W. Johnson receives more advice on how to go about his business. Johnsons business, when hes in Georgia, is serving as chairman for the Masters.
Most people just refer to him as Hootie.
And here, Hootie, is the latest for a suggestion box that is perpetually overstuffed:
Find a way to get Joey Sindelar into the field at the 2005 Masters.
Sindelar, you probably know by now, finished 41st Sunday on the 2004 PGA Tour money list when he failed to make the cut at the Chrysler Championship and when Jesper Parnevik birdied the 72nd hole and when Tommy Armour III bogeyed his last hole Sunday.
This combination of events dropped Sindelar out of the top 40. Which brings us to your qualifying standards. The top 40 on the 2004 money list are in for next April. Sindelar, who hasnt played in a Masters since 1993, is out for now.
I know he can still qualify if he ranks among the top 10 on the U.S. money list published the week prior to the 2005 Masters. He can qualify if he jumps into the top 50 in the world rankings at the end of calendar 2004; and he can qualify if makes it into the top 50 on the world rankings published the week prior to the 2005 Masters. (As of Mondays latest re-mix, Sindelar is No. 82 in the world.)
All of these avenues, however, are something of a longshot.
Heres the deal, Hootie:
Sindelar has been aiming for the 2005 Masters ever since he won the Wachovia Championship at the age of 46 last May. His two sons are 14 and 11 now. Last time he got to Augusta they didnt know the difference between the green jacket and the Green Hornet.
Sindelar, by anybodys definition is one of golfs very best good guys. Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts and Ben Hogan all would have enjoyed his company.
When they told Sindelar he had earned $1.08 million for winning at Wachovia, he said this that day:
Thats wild. I really want to know what my parents are thinking right now. Because my dad delivered mail for 35 years and my mom drove a school bus. Thats a stupid amount of money no matter what you do, let alone that. Well have a lot of laughs about that. Its bizarre.
I know what youre thinking right now, Hootie. Youre thinking, son, a man has to earn his way into our tournament. We cant have every Tom, Dick or Esteban teeing it up here at Augusta National on a whim.
And, of course, you are absolutely correct.
Thing is, there is this other qualifying standard for your tournament: Its written right there in the tournament by-laws: The Masters Committee, at its discretion, also invites international players not otherwise qualified.
Im not the first to wonder why there isnt a similar category for American players. And Im thinking if there was, Joey Sindelar, who represents everything American golf should be all about, should receive one.
Thanks, Mr. Johnson, for your time.
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