This weeks event offers more than an inflated first-place prize. It offers the familial types the opportunity to mesh their professional and personal lives.
I feel like I put golf not necessarily on the back burner, but its not necessarily the most important thing, said 2000 Disney champion Duffy Waldorf.
Waldorf has four sons who play alongside their vibrantly-attired dad in the annual Father-Child tournament held Wednesday before the official Disney Classic. Of course, batting around multi-colored balls in the Central Florida humidity isnt why the kids encourage Pops to make the trip to the Magic Kingdom.
They want to see glove-wearing rodents and talking dogs. They want to eat $7 hotdogs and be entertained by beauties and beasts.
I have fun with the kids and we get together with our friends, and have some nice dinners and go to the parks. Its just as important as playing good golf, said Waldorf.
But there is that trivial matter of playing good golf.
Disney is one of only two events remaining in order to qualify for the Tour Championship, and one of only three full-field tournaments remaining on the 2002 calendar.
With the exception of Craig Stadler (123rd), Nos. 121-133 on the money list are in attendance this week. Craig Barlow, at 125th, is currently the man riding the right side of the fence.
Barlow is one of several in the field who would like to add to the record number of first-time winners on tour this year. Phil Tataurangi became the 15th player to cast aside virginal white, doing so, appropriately enough, in Sin City at last week's Invensys Classic.
While some are sweating their cards for next season, others are trying to feel the cool breeze of increased cash flow.
The Tour Championship is for the top 30 players on the money list following next weeks Buick Challenge, and offers up a $5 million everybody-who-plays-gets-paid purse.
Tataurangi moved to 33rd on the money list, thanks to his gaudy $900,000 paycheck Sunday. But he wont be able to move inside the top-30 money line this week, as hes not in the field.
Pat Perez, No. 37, will also have to wait a week to try and qualify for the lucrative season finale. He withdrew from Disney for unspecified reasons, and was replaced by Floridian Boo Weekley.
Weekley, who is more Southern than grits, needs a big payday like a deer needs camouflage. Hes mired in 198th place on the money list, having made five cuts in 22 attempts this year.
This is the 32nd playing of the Disney Classic. National Car Rental sponsored the tournament for the past four seasons, but signed off in 2001. There is no sponsor this year, but tournament officials are expected to announce this weekend a new sponsor starting in 2003.
This is the second consecutive pro-am event on tour. One-hundred-and-forty-four professionals will compete with 144 amateurs on two courses. The higher handicaps will only compete over the first two days, however.
The 7,201-yard, par-72 Magnolia and the 6,957-yard, par-72 Palm will host the tournament for the first two days. Magnolia will be the exclusive venue over the weekend.
Jose Coceres is the defending champion after staving off Davis Love III a year ago. He is joined in the field by seven other past Disney winners, including two-time champion Tiger Woods.
Woods is making his first start since the Ryder Cup three weeks ago. He is playing his first Stateside tournament in nearly two months.
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