Small Market Feel - Very Big Support

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There was some potentially disturbing news floating around Harbour Town Golf Links Wednesday. Perhaps you've heard about the plans under way for a 'Majors Tour' which would bring together major tournament winners only in their late 30s to early 50s. Well, word has it that the new tour would have an event directly opposite of the Worldcom Classic - The Heritage of Golf.
 
As expected, Tournament Director Steve Wilmot is a bit nervous but said he's too busy worrying about running the 2002 WorldCom Classic to get too wrapped up in what might lie ahead.
 
But he might not have to worry too much if what Masters champion Larry Mize had to say is any indication about the feelings of others. 'I'll be back here as long as they'll have me,' Mize said. The fact is, Mize and others know a great tournament from a good one, and the Worldcom Classic is a great one.
 
One of just four invitational tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule, it has been won by virtually all of the big names. Hale Irwin, Davis Love III and Nick Price are among those who have made this a big part of their resume.
 
Not only is it a great tournament, helped by the warm sunshine and sandy beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, but most importantly, it's on a great golf course.
 
'It all really comes back to the golf course,' said Dudley Hart. 'And this is a great one.'
 
Tom Lehman added, 'If this was a goat track, you can bet a lot of guys would take the week off after a major. But this is one of the very best courses we play.'
 
Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson are here because they want to win. Simple as that. Mickelson knows that Hilton Head Island is a great place to relax, but is very quick to point out that there is a tournament to be played on a very good course that demands shotmaking at its finest.
 
'The Masters is a great tournament,' Mickelson said. 'But if players are too worn out by playing last week, then they need to take a week off.'
 
What Mickelson seemed to be saying is that this tournament stands alone on the schedule as a very presitigious one to win.
 
All the players realize that Harbour Town Golf Links is a course that requires precision, not necessarily length. Tight fairways that resemble hallways in an elementary school and greens seemingly as small as dinner plates require the best of shots, and you'd better hole some putts while you're at it.
 
Along those lines, look to see where Tom Lehman ends up on the leaderboard. For the first time, he's using the long putter this week in hopes of fixing what he says has been 'derailing his game.'
 
While Tiger Woods has the week off, there is no reason for a letdown this week. Ernie, Davis, Sergio and Phil are among those who'd love a chance to slip on the tartan jacket this week. And you have a hard time believing that any of them would jump too quickly at a chance to play a 'Majors Tour' event next year, or any year in the future if it conflicted directly with an event like this.
 
Unless you've been here, you have no idea just how good this place is!