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Golf Notes December 24

Sergio Garcia's goal at the start of the year was to win the money title on both sides of the Atlantic. He'll have to settle for winning the silly-season money list.

Garcia did that in one tournament, earning $2 million from the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa. Davis Love III was the only other guy in seven digits, winning $1.2 million in the Target World Challenge.

Fred Couples, known affectionately as the ``King of the Silly Season,'' was No. 3 on the list with $790,000 from the Skins Game and the Target World Challenge. That's 43 percent of what he made in the regular season.

Tiger Woods failed to win at least $1 million in the silly season for the first time since 1999. He played only his Target World Challenge and was runner-up, earning $700,000. Woods had played at least two silly-season events every year since turning pro in 1996.


Tom Watson and Bruce Edwards, the player and caddie whose seasons were linked with compassion and a deadly disease, were honored by the Golf Writers Association of America.

Edwards won the Ben Hogan Award, given to the person who continues to be active in golf despite handicap or serious illness. Edwards has Lou Gehrig's disease, but still caddied for Watson in seven of his nine majors, one of them a victory on the Champions Tour.

Watson won the Charlie Bartlett Award for unselfish contributions for the betterment of society. Watson was an advocate for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and raised $3 million for research.

They will be honored April 7 at the annual GWAA dinner in Augusta, Ga.

Edwards attended this year's GWAA dinner to watch Jeff Julian, also stricken with ALS, receive the Ben Hogan Award.


Mark McGwire isn't like retired athletes who take up golf and take themselves too seriously.

The former St. Louis Cardinals slugger has some serious game.

McGwire recently won the ADT Skills Challenge, a series of contests for long drive, bunkers, trouble shots, putting and chipping. Among his victims were Peter Jacobsen, Paul Azinger, Padraig Harrington, Nick Faldo, and Colin Montgomerie.

``I think what surprised all of us was his short game,'' Jacobsen said. ``That's generally the area that separates a very good amateur and a tour professional.''

McGwire, 40, said he began playing when he was 5 and even quit his high school baseball team to play golf, winning one tournament. Retirement from baseball has only made the addiction stronger. His handicap index is 0.

Will it lead to the Champions Tour?

``I don't know what I'm going to be doing in 10 years,'' McGwire said. ``If I'm still playing golf, yeah, I'd take a shot at it. Why not? I think that would be exciting. But it's a long way away. I look at myself as a minor-league player right now in golf.''

He sounds like a good prospect.

McGwire won $122,500 and donated it to Cardinals Care, a charity arm for the St. Louis Cardinals. The event will be televised Saturday on NBC.


Phil Mickelson can check one thing off his list of things to do in golf -- his first albatross.

Mickelson was playing a ``Beat the Pros'' outing at La Jolla Country Club south of San Diego when he hit driver on the 305-yard opening hole. The ball hopped three times and rolled 15 feet into the cup.

It was the first ace on a par 4 at La Jolla CC, and the first one ever for Lefty.

``I don't want to hear anymore about my driving accuracy,'' joked Mickelson, who was 189th in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour this year.


The Presidents Cup won't be at PGA Tour headquarters anytime soon. It was taken from Fancourt in South Africa to the clubhouse at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia, site of the 2005 matches. ... David Duval started 2003 at No. 15 in the world ranking and finished at No. 242. ... Masters runner-up Len Mattiace is the latest PGA Tour player on the mend. Mattiace injured his left knee skiing in Colorado and had arthroscopic surgery last week. He will be evaluated in six weeks to determine when he can return. ... Former Masters and PGA champion Jackie Burke has been chosen winner of the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the U.S. Golf Association.


Eight days elapsed in January before Jonathan Byrd hit the first shot of the '03 season at the Mercedes Championships. There were 17 days left in December when Davis Love III tapped in the final putt of the Target World Challenge.


``Now that he's getting hitched, he'll want to play more.'' -- Justin Leonard, on Tiger Woods playing only 18 times on the PGA Tour last year.

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