It was the kind of year on the Senior Tour where the little names became big names and the big names got stuck in neutral. Birdies, Pars and Bogeys will be awarded as follows:
The first birdie goes to the classic over-achiever, Allen Doyle.
What hasnt Doyle done? He led the Senior Tour in money won $2,553,582, admittedly with a tournament or two more than most, but still a magnificent feat for a man who, until a few short years ago, never earned much more than $35,000.
He won twice and finished in the top three 10 times. Doyle is an anomaly in that he only wanted to play professional golf to save up so his daughters would be able to go to college. They can go now. In fact, Doyle can buy the college if he wants to. He simply played beautifully in his third season in the Seniors. He won $3.5 million his first two years, $6 million counting this year, and he wont have to worry about the driving range in La Grange, Ga., much longer.
Jim Thorpe is another guy who isnt supposed to be here. But here he is, $1,827,223 richer after 2001. Thorpe won twice, finished second twice, third twice and in the top 10 13 times. He played 35 tournaments, but found time between trips to the casinos to make a very nice living, thank you.
Doug Tewell, Bob Gilder and Dana Quigley also rate Birdies for 2001. Each finished in the top 10 of the money list, and all appear poised to do it again and again.
Bruce Lietzke and Sammy Rachels are newcomers who get Birdies. Both turned 50 this year and both won two tournaments. Lietzke became a millionaire ($1,119,573) since his 50th birthday in July, while Rachels came from the backwoods of the Florida Panhandle to earn nearly a million ($932,031).
Almost all the top 20 made Pars. Bruce Fleisher was second on the money list with almost $2.5 million, but hes been there the last two years and this has become an average year for him. Hale Irwin, No. 3, had a grandson born this season and traded a little prize money for some time spent with the new family member. Larry Nelson, No. 4, and Gil Morgan, No. 5, have both had better years, though Nelson sparkled with five wins, the most by a longshot on the Senior Tour.
Some of the PGA Tours big names just havent gotten the hang of the elder tour yet. Tom Kite won $1,398,802, good for 10th place, but he gets a Bogey because he can do even better if he gets it all sorted out.
Tom Watson chose not to participate as much as most, and consequently finished 17th on the money list. He teed it up only 13 times and won the PGA Seniors. Dont expect to see much of Watson next year, either, as he has a family of school-age children.
Lanny Wadkins has been a major disappointment, although injuries have been a bugaboo for several years now and he devotes much of his time to his duties as a television commentator. He finished 73rd on the money list while playing 18 times, winning $164,833.