If anybody had asked me, I would have told them that:
Phil Mickelson was within his rights at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic when he asked out of the 'celebrity' rotation. But it was a wrong-headed decision.
In Mickelson's defense, he let tournament officials know weeks in advance that, even though he was the defending champion, he didn't want to be part of the glitz. Conventional wisdom among the players says playing with the celebrities the first four days of this 90-hole event will cost three to four strokes because of all the distractions.
But Mickelson was the first defending champion since 1977 to play outside the spotlight. And it is hard to figure how a player who was so wildly popular at the U.S. Open last summer would want to risk a public relations blemish. But that's what this has become for him now.
Again in Mickelson's defense: He signs more autographs than almost anybody on Tour and he is one of the best clubhouse tippers in professional golf. He cares about people. It's his judgment on issues like the Hope controversy that sometimes let him down.
Mickelson tied for sixth. The player who replaced him in the celebrity draw, Joey Sindelar finished 16th. The difference in their 90-hole stroke totals? Three shots.
If Annika Sorenstam decides to play in the B.C. Open opposite the British Open in mid-July, it will be a bigger 'story' in the sporting media than Ernie Els' title defense at Royal St. George's.
This is a stunning fact. But watch how many daily newspaper sports editors assign their golf writers to cover Annika in New York instead of the men across the pond. You might be surprised.
The most interesting golf course, in my opinion, for Annika to play against the men would be Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. Colonial plays shorter than its listed 7,080 yards. As recently as 1996 short-hitting Corey Pavin won there. Would Ben Hogan, whose statue dominates the club's grounds, turn over in his grave at the prospect of Annika in the field? Maybe. Remember, Hogan is the same guy who refused to have a guest room included when he built a house near at nearby Shady Oaks because he didn't want to have to entertain out of town guests.
For Mike Weir, a Canadian, this is about as good as its gets. First he birdies the last three holes to beat Jay Haas and win the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic by two shots Sunday for his first Tour win in more than a year. Then he moves on to the Monterey Peninsula for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am where his partner will be countryman Wayne Gretzky, a hockey legend and boyhood idol.
Greg Norman has played his last Masters. At 47 this somehow doesn't seem right. But he needed to finish in the top 16 last year to get invited back. He shot 75 on Sunday for a share of 36th place when he needed 69 to get in the top 16.
Norman's is probably THE sympathetic figure in the tournament's storied history. But Masters chairman Hootie Johnson isn't finding much sympathy in his heart for anybody these days. Johnson is a progressive at heart. He's just having a bad year.
Sources say Jack Nicklaus, 63, hasn't decided whether he will play at Augusta. But if his debut at the weekends inaugural Champions Tour event in Hawaii is any indication, the Bear will be at the Masters in April. It will likely be his third-to-last appearance at the tournament because of new eligibility guidelines engineered by Johnson.
Come to think of it, Jack may bow out after next year, thereby having the satisfaction of leaving the tournament on his own terms. A Masters without six-time champion Nicklaus doesn't sound right either.
It got my attention when baseball player Ken Griffey Jr., in a televised interview from the Hope last week, said Tiger Woods' recovery from knee surgery was going slower than expected. Hmmmm. Griffey is one of Woods' close Orlando pals.