The Purity of Our Game

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Given all the intrigue over the alleged dirt/smudge/pine tar/grease/resin on the left hand of Kenny Rogers, perhaps we take a minute to consider the lack of controversy in a PGA TOUR season.
 
Think about it for a minute. And while you are, take a look at what came of the Hey, Go Wash Your Hands Game 2 of the 2006 World Series.
 
Did you see David Lettermans 'Top 10 Signs a Baseball Player is Cheating' (from CBS.com)?
 
10. Tested positive for uranium
9. Always asking fans for clean urine
8. After each win, receives congratulatory phone call from Balco founder Victor Conte
7. Name on back of his uniform is Bonds
6. You can find him in the club house corking himself
5. Distracts opponents by throwing out the frozen head of Ted Williams
4. Somehow got three RBIs during the seventh-inning stretch
3. You havent seen someone with that much Vaseline on them since the last Paris Hilton video
2. Pete Rose called him a disgrace to the game
1. His nickname is Needle (Butt)
 
Good laughs, huh? Good thing golf hasnt gone through such a period of questioning and critique.
 
Which brings me to this weeks final PGA TOUR stop ' the $5.3 million Chrysler Championship at the Westin Innisbrook Resorts Copperhead Course in Tampa, Fla.
 
It's the final money grab of the year. Where pressure is at the greatest, and thus, so too, is the proof that professional golf is still a yearly game of prove it.
 
Sure, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have endorsements that guarantee their financial freedom before their first Nike or Callaway is put on the tee. But, earn a spot in the top 125 and you have the SAME chance to earn top billing on next years money list as Tiger does.
 
There are no five-year guaranteed All-Exempt Contracts. In fact, you must win to get a two-year deal.
 
But with all the sweat that might be on the face of current No. 125 Bubba Dickerson ' who was an alternate this week and did not make the Chrysler field ' or No. 132 Omar Uresti ' who couldnt get a spot at Disney or Tampa ' consider the success story that IS possible just by finishing inside the top 150.
 
If you didnt know, top 150 means unlimited sponsors exemptions (if you can get them).
 
Last year, Brett Wetterich finished No. 132, and this year won a tournament and made the Ryder Cup team.
 
Take it a step further and look at Steve Stricker. Stricker was No. 162 last year, providing him with no exempt status and allowing him only a few spots given to former PGA TOUR winners or any sponsor exemption he could corral. For his determination and great play in 2006, he he's No. 33 on the money list, and is able to spend time with his family this week instead of battling for playing status next year. By comparison, Strickers played in just 17 events while No. 19 on the money list, Dean Wilson, has played 32.
 
Want one more? Brett Quigley used to be called Mr Bubble. From 1997 to 2000 he finished Nos. 128,127,152 and 150 in money. This year hes having his best season at No. 16 and will arrive at East Lake for the TOUR Championship as proof that while nothing is guaranteed, good play takes care of everything.
 
So did Stricker or Wilson or Wetterich or Quigley need the help of a few extra dimples on the golf ball or a glove with a little extra tack?
 
Or did it just take hard work? I love the fact that nothing is guaranteed in professional golf. You get what you earn. You earn every penny.
 
And if Dickerson falls from his perch at No. 125, he can look to Quigley for motivation.
 
Nothings guaranteed in golf from one year to the next. Zero post-season RBIs and a batting average barely above .000 only guarantee that Alex Rodriguez gets criticized. Nobodys taking his big league status away.
 
Apples to Apples? Maybe not, but I think you know what I mean.
 
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann