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PGA: Stephen Ames coasts to six shot win
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Tiger Woods misses practice to be with father

Golf Notes May 21

Tom Lehman has played in the U.S. Open the last 11 years, and is the only man to be in Sunday's final pairing four consecutive years.

Just getting back to the U.S. Open could take some work.

Lehman, coming off his most difficult season as a pro, probably needs a top 10 finish this weekend to avoid having to play a 36-hole qualifier for the U.S. Open at Olympia Fields.

Colonial is the final week to lock up a berth in the U.S. Open, either by moving into the top 50 in the world ranking or the top 10 on the PGA Tour money list. In Europe, the top two players on the Order of Merit after this week will be exempt.

The focus is on Lehman, who has always played his best in the U.S. Open. He is No. 52 in the world ranking, having missed the cut at the Byron Nelson Classic.

Also on the bubble are Bob Tway (No. 51), Scott McCarron (No. 53) and Stewart Cink (No. 54), whose game is coming around. Cink already missed out on the Masters this year.

Mark Calcavecchia also missed the Masters this year. He is at No. 59, and likely will need to finish no worse than fifth.

Missing from the Colonial field is John Huston, who is sitting precariously at No. 50 and could slip from that number if players behind him have a good week. Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer (No. 49) isn't playing the Volvo PGA Championship in Europe.

On the money list, Chad Campbell is holding down the 10th spot. He is only about $38,000 over Steve Flesch and about $75,000 over Nick Price, who are both playing Colonial.

Campbell was in the same spot for the Masters, but tied for sixth in the final week (Players Championship) to secure a ticket to Augusta National.

Tiger tales
One of the players Tiger Woods leaned on for guidance in deciding whether to turn professional was the man he now routinely beats -- Ernie Els.

Tom Callahan describes their relationship in his book, "In Search of Tiger."

The most meaningful conversation came after the trophy presentation at the 1996 British Open, where Els was runner-up and Woods, 20, was the low amateur.

"I told him 18 was too young for reasons apart from golf," Els said in the book. "I said 19 might be all right and 20 was fine. I tried to let him in on how mentally tiring this level is, traveling so much and playing so many tournaments. And at times, how vicious the game can seem."

Before Woods left Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Els said to him, "I don't have to tell you, you're more than good enough to be playing out here."

Woods, who was long and wild off the tee at the time, turned pro that summer after winning his third straight U.S. Amateur. Els knew what was going to happen, but kept it a secret for more than a month.

As Woods announced at the Greater Milwaukee Open that he was turning pro, Callahan called Els and asked the Big Easy, "Is he ready?"

There was a long pause.

"That's the dumbest question I've ever been asked," Els replied. "Have you seen him?"

Then, Els had a question for Callahan.

"What are we going to do when he finds the fairway?"

Ryder reaction
Hal Sutton believes changes to Europe's Ryder Cup team is only going to make it tougher for the United States to win the back the cup.

"I'm sure it's going to make their team even better," Sutton said. "It's going to be easier to play our tour and still gather points to make their team."

Instead of taking 10 players from a European money list, Europe will take the top five from the world ranking and the next five available from the money list, along with two captain's picks.

"It might hurt their tour just a little bit," said Sutton, noting that players might be persuaded to play more on the PGA Tour. "But I'm sure it's a positive move for them overall."

Europe has won the Ryder Cup six of the last nine times.

In the shades
Justin Leonard is the latest player to wear sunglasses on the PGA Tour, but only between shots.

"I've never had any eye problems, but I had them on during a practice round and left them on during the tournament," he said. "Then we were playing in the desert, and walking through the crowd there's a lot of dust. We get to Florida and there's pollen. I just quit trying to make a decision about them."

A traditional in every other sense, Leonard doubts he'll reach the stage where he keeps them on over shots and putts. He tried it once on the practice range.

"I hit a couple pretty good, then I would catch one about this far behind the ball," he said, holding his fingers 3 inches apart. "That experiment is over."

Play with Tiger
Instead of a tie for a Father's Day gift, those with the financial means -- and that means six figures -- can bid for a round of golf with Tiger Woods.

For the second straight year, the Tiger Woods Foundation is offering a golf outing with the world's No. 1 player through eBay. Bidding begins on June 6 and runs through June 16, the day after the U.S. Open.

The highest bidder gets a round for four with Woods at Isleworth Country Club, his home course outside Orlando, Fla.

Last year, the round of golf went for $425,000 to an anonymous bidder.

The PGA of America lost two of its past presidents in the last week. Don Padgett of Pinehurst, N.C., died Friday at age 78. Padgett was PGA president from 1977-78, a period marked by rapid expansion of the Ryder Cup. Warren Orlick of Birmingham, Mich., president from 1971-72, died Saturday at age 90. ... After 20 events on the PGA Tour, 25 players already have earned at least $1 million. Fourteen of them have not won this year. ... Phil Mickelson is no longer the highest-ranked lefty in golf. Mickelson dropped to No. 6 in the world ranking, one spot behind Masters champion Mike Weir.

Stat of the week
Until his tie for 29th in Germany, Tiger Woods had never finished worse than 15th in a non-PGA Tour event.

Final word
"I really wish a lot of these players could act like gentlemen for one week. You know, stand up when she enters the room, open the door for her and thank her for being there -- just in case some of them have a daughter every now and then."

-- CBS Sports analyst David Feherty, on Annika Sorenstam playing Colonial.


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