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Golf Notes July 30

The next player to win the U.S. Open might find a business card taped to the bottom of the trophy.

The British Open is famous for having an engraver etch the champion's name into the silver claret jug when victory is apparent. At the U.S. Open, the winner is responsible for getting the trophy engraved.

``Payne (Stewart) had won the previous year, and he had to get his (engraving) done in Orlando,'' Tiger Woods said, recalling his 2000 U.S. Open victory at Pebble Beach. ``He left the card taped underneath it.''

Jim Furyk, ever the student for detail, got home from Olympia Fields and started studying the names on the trophy dating to 1895.

Most of the engraving was similar. Ernie Els ('97), Lee Janzen ('98), Stewart ('99) and Woods also were living in the Orlando area.

``But if you notice, the engraving is off,'' Furyk said, lightly scanning his finger over the names. ``Els is a little bigger. And Tiger's spacing is not that good.''

Woods noticed a difference, too.

``I remember Jack Fleck being on there, and it was huge,'' he said.

Furyk is not sure who will engrave his name on the trophy, but if next year's winner is a neighbor in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. -- Vijay Singh, perhaps? -- he can expect a card with the trophy.

OLD FRIEND, FAMILIAR PLACE

Playing against Phil Mickelson in San Diego County brought back fond memories for Ernie Els.

Twenty years ago, the Big Easy came to the United States for the first time and was paired with Mickelson in the final round of the Junior World tournament at Balboa Park.

Els doesn't remember much about the final round in the 13-14 age group, only that he had a big lead and held on to win.

``Even then, you kind of knew the rest of your life you'll probably be seeing this guy,'' Els said. ``It's been true. It's been a nice ride for both of us.''

MAJOR TOM

Barring an injury, Tom Watson has a chance to set a record by playing the most majors in one year -- nine.

Watson received an invitation to play in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, the only major keeping him from the career Grand Slam. He already has played in the Masters (missed cut), U.S. Open (T28) and British Open (T18).

And the Champions Tour expanded to five majors this year.

Watson already has played the Senior PGA Championship (T17), Senior U.S. Open (2), Senior Players Championship (T2) and Senior British Open (Won). The final stop is the Tradition, which has moved to Oregon and will be played in late August.

Jack Nicklaus played in all eight majors on the schedule in 2000, while Arnold Palmer never played more than seven in a year.

HOW SOON THEY FORGET

Paul McGinley of Ireland was a late addition to the PGA Championship field, but only after the PGA of America realized he was the only Ryder Cup player from last year who was not invited.

McGinley holed an 8-foot putt on the 18th hole at The Belfry to clinch the Ryder Cup for Europe. Since then, he has dropped to No. 144 in the world.

Ian Woosnam and Lee Westwood also have been invited to Oak Hill, bringing the number of Europeans in the PGA Championship to 28. The last European to win the PGA Championship was Tommy Armour in 1930.

UNITED FRONT

There have been times when a European player had an American caddie at the Ryder Cup, such as Jesper Parnevik with Lance Ten Broeck.

Next year, the European captain will be Bernhard Langer, who lives almost exclusively in the United States and whose wife is American.

A divided house? No chance.

``The kids have no problem with whom they support, despite their mom being an American,'' Langer said. ``They support Europe. Last year, Jackie and Stefan were with me at The Belfry. They were even in the European team room, and they definitely wanted us to win.''

BACK OF THE BUS

Two agents at IMG made sure Ben Curtis flew home from the British Open in style.

Curtis and his fiancee booked coach tickets on Continental to London, and they were unable to upgrade to business class for the long flight home to Cleveland.

That's when Mark Steinberg (who represents Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam) and Clarke Jones (Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia) stepped in. The agents had seats 2A and 2B. They gave them to Curtis and his fiancee for coach seats -- Steinberg got the window seat.

BETTER WITH AGE

Jim Colbert and Jim Fleck did something that not even Tiger Woods can match -- at least not for a while.

Colbert shot his age in the second round of the Senior British Open at Turnberry, a 62 that also tied the lowest score for a senior major.

Fleck, who beat Ben Hogan in a playoff at the 1955 U.S. Open, shot his age -- 81 -- in the first round at Turnberry.

DIVOTS

Among those in the gallery at the ``Battle at the Bridges'' was Fred Couples. ... Colin Montgomerie has agreed to play in the UBS Cup, the Ryder Cup-style matches for players 40-and-over. Also playing for the Rest of the World team at Sea Island on Nov. 21-23 is Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer. ... Greg Norman's silly season event, the Franklin Templeton Shootout, will return to Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., through 2004. ... Todd Fischer has shot under par his last 12 rounds, the longest active streak on the PGA Tour. He tied for 12th in Milwaukee, tied for 39th at the B.C. Open and was third in Hartford, moving him up to 85th on the money list.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Three players eligible for the 50-and-over Champions Tour next year also will be exempt on the PGA Tour -- Craig Stadler, Peter Jacobson and Jay Haas.

FINAL WORD

``When you get to the Hall of Fame and you win 30 tournaments, everybody wonders what you play for. I play because I love the game, but I also play to keep etching your name in the record books.'' -- Juli Inkster.


 

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