*His first round 66 at Spyglass was impressive, but my colleague Clifton Brown of The New York Times says we're not talking Willis Reed limping onto the Garden floor for game seven against Wilt and the Lakers now are we?
(No, we're not.)
*No. 1 in greens in regulation in 2000, No. 2 in putts per green in regulation. That's truly amazing. But no one, not even Tiger, can continue to make every single putt he looks at. It's just not possible. And so Tiger's 0-3 in 2001? Is it more or less exciting with other guys now winning?
*Tiger's powerful. No. 1 most powerful in all of sports, according to The Sporting News. It'll be interesting to see how he will he use that power in the coming years.
*17-year-old Ryan Ring loves golf, loves life and beat leukemia. In the grand, sometimes difficult scheme of life, Ryan stepped up, pulled out a two iron and into a 30-mile-an-hour gale force wind knocked it two feet from the flag. Closed out leukemia on the 14th hole. Through the Make a Wish Foundation, he was able to partner with another courageous golfer, Casey Martin, at Pebble Beach. 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft was also in the group and said of Ring, 'His father told me that Ryan literally was practicing his golf while he was hooked up to the chemo equipment. He's really a great, great kid.' Ryan networked Casey for a possible entre to Stanford. Nice to have big plans and not big worries. Isn't that what youth and life should be all about?
*Team Garcia lit a spark in the Pebble Gallery. Sergio, 17-year-old younger sister Mar (Spanish for 'sea'), and papa Victor had the time of their lives. Mar's got big brother's swing, smile and confidence and plans to perhaps pursue the University of Arizona. After kicking up some dust near the amateur lead at Pebble, Mar came down with a stomach virus before Saturday's round. She toughed it out. Sergio produced one of the tender moments of the week when, just before the first tee introductions, he wrapped his arms around Mar and gave her a warm hug. Sergio's soft hands should one day win a major. Augusta, you would think, considering his Spanish predecessors Seve and Jose Maria demonstrated such feel for the National.
*Winning in Hawaii, Furyk and Faxon stroked home the point that there's still room on occasion for the really good putter.
*Calcavecchia reminds us that excellence in golf is merely on loan. You don't own it. You don't control it. One week you shoot a three for 72 holes. The cup looks like a bunker. You're a month away from the one year anniversary of your bizarre-but-effective relationship with the strange grip you employ known as 'the claw.' But within days of your record at Phoenix and all that good feeling, you suddenly break your putter in the second round at the AT&T, abandon the claw, putt with your metal wood and shoot 7,896. The word is fleeting, friggin' fleeting. There's just no explaining it. There's no magic. It's just the way the damn game is. Was it the late Jim Murray who said the game's a pirate?
*On the other hand, Calc did win 720 grand for shooting a three for 72 holes in Phoenix. Mark Johnson won a playoff in the Monday qualifier at Pebble and was just happy to be anywhere playing for cash. Johnson has delivered Budweiser Beer for 20 years, arising at 2 a.m. for his 4 a.m. shift. He's 46, made it through two stages of The PGA Tour's Qualifying Tournament and has played some Canadian Tour events. He hopes to make it on Tour or later the Senior Tour. Rather than take any credit for himself when he floated on the leaderboard through a couple of rounds at Pebble, Mark offered the following, 'The busy season in the beer business is the summertime, which also happens to be the busy season for golfers. I owe some thanks to all the guys at the distributorship that I work at for covering for me while I'm playing in tournaments. So, this Bud's for you guys.' And this Bud's for you, Mark.
Mark Johnson is one of my favorite professional golfers.
Ryan Ring is one of my favorite amateur golfers.