November Starts With a Bang

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So much to keep track of on a Sunday in golf where so much of significance happened and so very little of it had anything to do with Tiger Woods.
 
Oh sure, Woods is now poised to go out in a blaze of official 2003 glory. If he wins next Sunday at the Tour Championship and Vijay Singh doesn't finish better than a three-way tie for third, Woods will capture the money title. The Player of the Year votes he will then need to capture that award will be a mere formality.
 
But Woods didn't tee it up last weekend. Singh did. And he almost won for the second straight week. Only the style of and grace of the preternaturally calm Retief Goosen, who won in Tampa, kept Singh from sewing up the money title.
 
Isn't it interesting how players, when they target something very specific, come so close to those targets? Players just trying to make the cut usually make or miss the weekend by no more than a shot or two. Singh's publicly announced goal is the money title. With one tournament to go, only a Woods victory and a Singh finish of a four-way tie for third or worse will stop him.
 
Meanwhile, over on the Nationwide Tour, a good-looking, smart-sounding young player named D.J. Brigman moved from No. 32 on that tour's money list to No. 16 at its season-ending Tour Championship in Alabama. And that was good enough to earn him his PGA Tour card for 2004. Brigman was the biggest winner in all of golf over the weekend. If he plays well in 2004, equipment companies will be falling all over themselves to sign or extend him as an endorser.
 
How can you not like a guy (Brigman) who once washed dishes at different local restaurants to pay for his wife's wedding ring?
 
In Korea, a 19-year-old Korean woman, Shi Hyun Ahn, eagled the final hole to win the LPGA's CJ Nine Bridges Classic by three shots. Michelle Wie, for her part, shot 85 in the first round. Ahn's victory was the seventh by a Korean woman or a woman of Korean descent in 28 LPGA events this year. That's a 25 percent victory rate for Koreans. Ironic, isn't it, in a year in which Korean fathers were accused of cheating by coaching their daughters from outside the ropes on the LPGA? And who will soon forget Jan Stephenson's ill-advised criticism of Korean women and their alleged standoffishness with their American partners in pro-ams?
 
Here's a flash: Language barriers still exist, even in golf. Pretty tough to come off like Katie Couric when you can't speak English. The Korean women in golf need to be cut some slack.
 
'Standoffish,' by the way was the word used by ABC golf analyst Curtis Strange to describe Singh's behavior towards the media. It went farther than just a few dust-ups with the media, Strange pointed out. How, Strange wondered, must Singh's sponsors like it when their player wins and continues to do great things on the course but refuses to promote their 'brand' in interview situations - which, by the way, are the best form of free advertising extant.
 
(And if I get one more E-mail telling me to leave Singh alone because he is a great player, I will scream. Of course Singh is a great player. And by many accounts he is a fun human being. But it doesn't follow that because he plays good golf, we should worship the ground he walks on away from the golf course any more than the stellar graduation rate of basketball coach Bob Knight's players should be offered as a defense of his often boorish antics.)
 
Suffice it to say that November in golf came in with a bang. A Tour
Championship freighted with meaning remains this month as does a Presidents Cup loaded on both sides with top 20 players in the world rankings.
 
This is all good.
 
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