Arnie and Jack still compete. After The Bear tightened the screws on PGA National, The Kings responding at Bay Hill by turning the fourth and 16th from par-5s to very long fours. With 5 under now the vogue winning score, the Florida Swings suddenly become a nice U.S. Open tune up.
The Mark Wilson Affair again lifts golf above politics and other blood sports, where players knowingly hold and scuff and generally attempt to get away with whatever they can so long as an official hasnt blown the whistle. Golf needs no whistles. The contestants hang their conscience around their necks when competing.
Tiger turns TVs to golf, but proof abounds that non-Tiger tournaments are capable of delivering drama: Fujikawas fairytale in Hawaii; Hoffmans Hope; Baddeleys bold run at Phoenix; Howells gutsy overtime takedown of Mickelson at Riviera; and now the Honda battle royale.
Love the natural, home-made swing of Jose Coceres, and the rags-to-riches story from which it was made.
For believers in karma, Wilsons win was exhibit A. You do the right thing, the only thing, and then you make enough putts to cover the Florida Turnpike from Disney to Dade.
A peek at the money list reveals a few early eye-openers. Sean OHairs 198 in earnings after five starts, Jason Gore 206 after six, and Shigeki Maruyama 206 in a half dozen events.
As for the world rankings, where have you gone Justin Leonard, now 194? Hes missed five cuts, hasnt broken 70, and appears to be a shell of the player who won the British a decade ago. Justin has three young children and the guess is that at some point the focus will sharpen again on the game hes played so well.
The current leader in consecutive cuts made? Ernie Els, who would likely trade his 44 straight for just a single victory.
Charlie Howells put together a nice stat package: fifth in driving distance, 15th in GIR, and, most impressively, 25th in putting average.
Many of us whove bemoaned the lack of personality on TOUR must concede that The Honda playoff offered plenty: the ultimate good guy in Mark Wilson; the Latin heartthrob in Camilo; the Argentine Rocky in Coceres; and the deep-fried, Panhandle original in Boo Weekly.