Why, you might want to know, have I chosen to suggest holiday presents for these guys when the worst of them earned was $180,000 for finishing in last place Sunday at Sherwood Country Club?
The reason is simple: These players earned their way here. Twelve of them made it through position in the world rankings, another four through much-coveted special exemptions. In golf these days it's a good thing to be wanted by Tiger. So without further ado, here are 16 holiday gifts that these players will be able to use in 2004, remembering for a moment that money isn't everything:
Robert Allenby: A Tie. Any tie. Allenby loves ties. He is 8-0 worldwide in playoffs that have followed tournaments in which he has been tied at the end of regulation.
Nick Price: Cessation of hostilities in his homeland of Zimbabwe. This is a very tall order and one that won't come soon. But all we are asking, Lennon said, is give peace a chance.
Davis Love III: 2004. That's all he needs. A new year. 2003 has been a trying one for Love with injuries on the course and personal tragedy (the suicide death of his brother-in-law, among other things) off the course. Love has handled all of this with grace and good sense. Somehow he even managed to win four tournaments.
K.J. Choi: Recognition. His game just keeps getting better. He has moved to the top of the list as the favorite to become the first Asian to win a major championship.
Tiger Woods: A date for his wedding with fiance Elin Nordegren that doesn't conflict with the four majors or the nine zillion other demands on his time.
Jay Haas: Another case of whatever it is he drinks at night that keeps him young and sharp. If he could bottle it and sell it as an elixir, Haas would become as rich as.........oh.......Tiger Woods.
Vijay Singh: A life-changing event of some kind that would remove the proclivity he has for being suspicious and feeling picked on. Lighten up, Veej, and the world will lighten up with you.
Darren Clarke: Enough good weather to practice a swing that feels new to him now that he has lost so much weight that the some of the positions of that swing have changed.
Padraig Harrington: A major championship. No Euro has won a major in this century. Harrington is my pick as the breakthrough guy.
Mike Weir: A fresh outlook. Carrying the burden of being a Player of the Year candidate all year took its toll. Weir was up to the task. But his batteries need a little re-charging. Make no mistake though, his game has arrived.
Justin Leonard: A bigger room at Royal Troon in July when he returns to try to win there again at The Open Championship. 'It was a closet,' Leonard said this week of his room at Troon in 1997. 'I could lie on my bed, stick my feet out the door, turn on the TV with one hand and the bathroom sink with another. All without moving.'
Kenny Perry: Another year like 2003. Don't be surprised if he wins at least twice again in 2004.
Ben Curtis: A second act. The jury is still out on whether Curtis is a one-hit wonder.
Fred Couples: Two dozen bottles of Jay Haas Elixir.
Shaun Micheel: More perfect distances for the perfect shot at the perfect moment.
Chris DiMarco: A Ryder Cup berth. This is a guy you want on your side in the team stuff.
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