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Golf Notes March 29

It's not even April, and there's already talk about the Grand Slam. But while all the attention is on whether Tiger Woods can win all four majors, perhaps the more realistic chance belongs to Karrie Webb.

The 25-year-old Aussie didn't just win the first major of the LPGA season, she finished 10 strokes clear of everyone else.

True, Dottie Pepper won the Nabisco by six strokes last year, but that was her first victory of the year, and it took her another five months to win again. Webb's record is more like a prize fighter -- she has only one "loss" this year, a runner-up finish in Phoenix.

What could hurt Webb is timing. She will have to wait three months before the next women's major, the LPGA Championship.

As for Woods, he hasn't won The Masters yet. But the courses for this year's majors are perfect for him to at least make the kind of run Jack Nicklaus did in 1972 -- Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, and Valhalla.

Can it be done?

"It's very generous for Nabisco to put up $2.5 million," Webb said of the bonus plan for winning all four majors. "I'm not saying it's not possible, but they have got a pretty safe bet."

Can it be done?

"Just got to be the right four," Woods said. "Last year, I won nine (tournaments -- 8 on the PGA Tour, 1 on the European Tour). Too bad four of those nine couldn't have been majors."

BAG FOR HIRE

Fanny Sunesson spent 10 years as the caddie for Nick Faldo. She didn't last eight tournaments with 20-year-old Sergio Garcia.

Garcia, who turned pro 11 months ago, will be using his fifth caddie when he plays in The Masters next week. He and Sunesson decided to part ways after Garcia missed the cut in The Players Championship with rounds of 82-72.

Sunesson will go to work with Fred Funk, a longtime friend for whom she caddied in the American Express Championship. That was about the time Garcia was getting rid of Jerry Higginbotham.

"It was nothing to do with Fanny's ability," Funk said. "They have just not been gelling as a team. I don't think she felt appreciated. She's the hardest working caddie out here."

HIS CUP RUNNETH OVER

If Australian amateur Aaron Baddeley is as good as advertised -- and count Tiger Woods among those who think he is -- consider the following possibility in the next few years.

Baddeley could join Ernie Els and Stuart Appleby on an International team that tries to whip the Americans in the Presidents Cup. The following year, he could join Tiger Woods and David Duval as the United States tries to win the Ryder Cup.

How? He holds dual citizenship.

Baddeley was born in New Hampshire, where his father was the chief mechanic for Mario Andretti. He moved to Australia when he was 2 and has lived their since. Australia changed its rules recently so its citizens don't have to choose between one nation or the other when they turn 18.

What about representing the United States in the Walker Cup, amateur matches against Britain and Ireland.

"We talked about that last year, but I don't know," he said. "It's a big decision to play for America since I've grown up in Australia, and I speak like an Australian. We'll see what happens."

SLOW PATROL

Not everyone can play as quickly as Fulton Allem, who said he once got so disgusted by the pace of play that he wrote, "You are too slow" when marking Bob Estes's scoreboard.

But the feisty South African raised a good point last week during The Players Championship. If golf is serious about slow play, there should be no warning before the rule is invoked.

"It would be like you going down the highway 100 mph," he said. "A cop says, 'Listen, bud, you're doing 100. I'm going to follow you now. I'm going to measure you're speed. You're not going to go over the speed limit, you're going to drive perfectly.'

"Same thing the way we've got it structured," he said. "Once you're on the clock, you're going to pick it up."

How quickly does Allem prefer to play? Consider the following equation.

"The ball spends two seconds on the clubface in a round of 18 holes," he said. "If you shoot 72, why does it take us five hours and 20 minutes to play?"

TENT LIFE

Peter Thomson met with prospective members of the International team, and only one major issue came up about the Presidents Cup in October.

What kind of quarters will they have at the Robert Trent Jones Club?

Because Royal Melbourne in Australia did not have an adequate clubhouse, both team headquarters were in large tents during the competition.

"Why this was an important issue, I don't know," mused Thomson. "I said, 'Well, if it's good enough for the King of Arabia to live in a tent, it's good enough for you.' They are assured that they are going to have a roof over their head."

DIVOTS

The PGA Tour has finally decided to meet with representatives of the fledgling Tour Players Association. Mark Brooks said the informal meeting would probably take place in three weeks. "It could be beneficial for both sides," he said. ...One of Colin Montgomerie's drills is to make 100 putts from 2 feet. If he misses, he has to start over. "I believe Tiger does it from 6 feet. I'm getting there," he said. ... As expected, Judy Rankin has been nominated for the LPGA Hall of Fame. Rankin won 26 times and was the first woman to earn over $100,000 in a season. She also set a record with 25 top-10 finishes in 1977, which still stands. Rankin needs 75 percent of the vote by the tour's tournament division when it meets May 2 in Austin, Texas. ... Mark O'Meara finished tied for ninth in The Players Championship, his first top 10 on the PGA Tour since a tie for sixth in the same tournament a year ago. ... "Live(at)17," which provided live coverage of the island-green 17th, recorded more than 5 million hits. Simultaneous viewership peaked at noon Friday at 155,000.

STAT OF THE WEEK

The last 10 winners of The Players Championship were all members of the 1998 Presidents Cup teams.

FINAL WORD

"It looks like they're building a K-Mart between my ball and theirs." - Fulton Allem, on how much farther young players hit it past him.

 

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