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Never Forgot the Friend

Editors Note: Mark Rolfing hosts the Golf Channel show Golf Hawaii. For more information about the show or golf in Hawaii log on to
Several weeks ago at the Pods Championship another player in his 40s won again on the PGA Tour. No, it wasnt Vijay Singh, (who did win the following week at Bay Hill) or Davis Love III or David Toms. It was Mark Calcavecchia. And once again, he seemingly surprised a lot of people which is pretty much the way it has been throughout Marks career.
Mark Calcavecchia and caddie
Mark Calcavecchia and his caddy share a hug after his win at the PODS Championship. (WireImage)
Calcavecchias victory was not without drama, and was not sealed until the 72nd green. Having missed 7-footer for par, he watched Heath Slocum miss a shorter putt and the one stroke win was Marks. Calcavecchia has always had a tremendous ability to rebound when things are going bad to begin a stretch of things going good really good. The week prior to the Pods Championship, Calc shot 78-71 in his hometown to miss the cut at the Honda Classic. On Thursday in Tampa he needed 36 putts, finished triple bogey/bogey and shot 75. He spent that night packing his bags, assuming he would miss the cut the next day and head home.
However, on Friday, Mark pulled out a newly purchased putter from an Edwin Watts Golf Shop ($256.18), forged a round of 67, made the cut and instead of heading home, headed to a magical Saturday. He scorched the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook with a round of 62, and then managed to hold on Sunday for the win.
I have always thought that Mark Calcavecchia has been underappreciatedin his career. I often hear him referred to as a journey-man. I guess he is, but that label only works when it is coupled with the fact that Calcavecchia has won on the PGA TOUR 13 times! Skeptics tend to look at the fact that he has been runner up 26 times. Mark has always been a streaky player with lots of highs and lows (he broke the all-time PGA TOUR scoring record in Phoenix one year) but remember, Calcavecchia has also won a major championship: The British Open.
The lows of Mark Calcavecchias career are not that mysterious. Certainly, there have been putting woes at times, but there has been much more than just that. His list of injuries over the years is very long. It seems like he has had back problems ever since I have known him. His knee problems are almost legendary. In 2003, he had knee surgery to repair damaged cartilage that was incurred while playing in the Phoenix Open Pro-Am. Later that year, a skiing accident required more surgery to repair a torn ACL. All of this came after a year where Mark had been diagnosed with sleep apnea, which caused fatigue and weight gain. Yet through all of the issues that Mark Calcavecchia has faced in his career, consider how remarkably consistent his record is, regardless of his streakiness. In 2006 he finished in the top 125 on the PGA TOUR money list for the 21st consecutive season. In the midst of all his injuries, he surpassed $1,000,000 in earnings in 2003 for the sixth time in seven years.
Mark Calcavecchia is a good guya great player and a person who cares more than many people might think. In Tampa, his caddie, Greg Larson was on the bag having recently been released from prison, after serving nearly 11 years on a drug offense. During the lowest time in Larsons life, Mark visited him in four different incarcerations facilities. Calcavecchia never forgot a friend neither will Greg Larson.
Heres to a great win in Tampa and to Mark Calcavecchia getting the appreciation he deserves.

Editors Note: Mark Rolfing, a Maui resident, is one of the leading forces in sports event marketing and production in Hawaii. As NBC Sports award-winning golf commentator, Rolfing continues to cover top golf events such as the prestigious Ryder Cup, The Players Championship and The U.S Open. Rolfing also hosts Golf Hawaii on The Golf Channel. Golf Hawaii, now in its twelfth season is one of the longest running sports shows in the nation.