Sandbagger Cleared


In the wake of the flap surrounding the team portion of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, amateur Billy Walters has been cleared by tournament officials amid questions that his 11 handicap was inflated.
Walters, is the erstwhile Las Vegas golf hustler, who won the event with pro partner Fredrik Jacobson by a record 10 shots. When Jacobson finished 4-under on his ball, many people assumed Walters accounted for the other 34 of the teams 38 under total. In actuality, Jacobson made 15 birdies and two eagles over 72 holes. And Walters, who didnt break 80 on his own ball in any of the four rounds, played well on the holes Jacobson faltered.
It was classic ham and egg as Walters described it.
Meanwhile a former USGA official told GOLF CHANNEL the pros are the ones that need to be investigated in the handicap department.
The pros are grossly over-handicapped, said the official. If the pros had a handicap, they would come in at +5 to +7. Put Vijay Singh on a high slope rated course with a +7.1 Handicap Index and his Course Handicap would be +9. He plays as a scratch so he gets nine free shots every round. Thats 36 freebies over four days.
The pros, said the official, are the real but silent handicap crooks here.
Any hopes Freddie Couples harbored of one day being a Ryder Cup captain died Tuesday when the TOUR announced he would captain the 2009 U.S. Presidents Cup team..Or did they?
Couples will be almost 53 in 2012, the next available opportunity for him to captain the U.S. Ryder Cup squad. The last U.S. captain anywhere near that old was Jackie Burke, 50 years of age, way back in 1973.
Nicklaus, Palmer, Watson, Trevino, Kite, Crenshaw, Strange'they were all still in their 40s when they held the job.
PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka declined to comment on the candidacies of Couples or any other potential future captains late Tuesday. But, he told me, his organization looks for captains with, among other things, recent Ryder Cup experience and peers on the team. Couples, it must be noted, hasnt played on a Ryder Cup team in 11 years.
But maybe he will be the exception that proves the rule. We do, after all, call seniors Champions these days. Maybe the wildly-popular Couples could turn out to be the right man for the Ryder Cup job four years from now. Given the Americans' poor record in recent Ryder Cups, perhaps they need a captain a little longer in the tooth.
Meanwhile Steranka said we can expect to learn the name of the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup captain some time between the end of this years matches in Louisville and the beginning of the points qualifying period for the next team.
Corey Pavin, who will be 50 at the time of the 2010 matches, is the early favorite for that captaincy. Dont be surprised if Davis Love III gets the nod for 2012. He will be 48 during those matches scheduled for Medinah near Chicago.

The road to Royal Birkdale is paved withtractor tracks?
Officials at the John Deere Classic are thinking outside the box in the ultra-competitive arena of recruiting players to come to their event. And it isnt easy when your July dates are the week before the Open Championship (to be played this year at Royal Birkdale in England) and your venue is Silvis, Ill.
The tournament has chartered the same 767 jet used by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and his team. It is configured with 102 seats, all of them first class.
Tournament director Clair Peterson has been visiting TOUR stops this year and handing players a mock one-way boarding pass, which promises, among other things, hassle-free security and customs screening, no risk of lost luggage and two full meals served in flight.
The cost: A player must commit to play in the John Deere Classic. Once that player does, Peterson will reserve up to three seats per player. There is a requested minimum donation of $1,000 per seat which will go towards the tournaments charity fund.
That $1,000 number, by the way, is significantly cheaper than any first class seats available through the airlines. A Monday spot check with United Airlines priced out a Chicago-Manchester first class round trip (on the British Open dates) at 6,759.90. One way was a whopping $5,271.40.
Better yet, the flight, which will leave at 8 p.m. Sunday after final round play concludes at the John Deere, leaves from Moline and lands in Manchester (close to Birkdale) at 8:30 a.m. Monday. Moline is just minutes from the TPC Deere Run. Normally players heading over to the U.K. from the John Deere Classic Sunday have to hustle the two hours over to Chicago and hop a commercial jet there.
The non-stop 767 gives them the most hassle-free way to get to the U.K., plus allows them to pick up Ryder Cup and FedExCup points in a full-status event the week before, said John Deere tournament director Clair Peterson. It has changed the way they view us. Now, if youre playing in the British Open, you have a great reason to also play in the John Deere Classic as well.
Peterson added the response from TOUR players has been very positive. Tom Lehman, for example, already has requested the full allotment of three seats and will take six (three more for family members) if extra seats become available.

Heres an unsolicited suggestion to the good folks who run the LG Skins Game in late November: Suspend the qualifying requirements for one year and bring together the captains.
Thats right, make it Faldo, Azinger, Norman and Couples.
Id pay to watch that.

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