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Golf Notes May 7th

Winning the Masters comes with perks that Mike Weir never even considered.

It started the next night, when he dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff at a Stanley Cup playoff game in Toronto, drawing a cheer that was louder than anything he heard at Augusta National.

When he returned home to Draper, Utah, city officials named a street after Weir.

"That's something I didn't expect," he said.

The biggest thrill comes from the players. Weir got out of his courtesy car Tuesday morning at the Wachovia Championship and was stopped by just about everyone he saw. On the practice range, Joe Durant trotted some 50 yards just to congratulate him.

Several players told him about their own experiences watching him win. Davis Love III, who tied for 15th at the Masters, was driving his motor home back to Sea Island, Ga., with a friend who was watching TV and giving Love updates.

"It's hard to root against anyone when they're both such nice people," Love said of the playoff between Weir and Len Mattiace. "I just told him if there's one more 6-foot putt, I was going to crash."

Weir played his first round since the Masters on Tuesday, and he spent much of the day getting the rust off his game. He plans to play Wachovia, the Byron Nelson Classic and the Memorial before the U.S. Open.

He's learning to budget all the requests for his time, but the real challenge could come late in the year. Along with the Presidents Cup in South Africa, Weir qualified for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf for the major champions.

He said he already has received two offers to play in offseason events, which is when he prefers to shut it down and quietly prepare for next year.

PRESIDENTIAL PRIVILEGE: Bill Clinton finally found a golf course to join.

Golf World magazine, citing an unidentified source, said the former president has joined Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.

Clinton moved to Westchester County after leaving office, but he's had a tough time joining a golf club in his new neighborhood because of long waiting lists, hard feelings over his politics or the hassles of having a former president in their midst.

Trump National, owned by real-estate tycoon Donald Trump, has drawn comparisons to Winged Foot. Its signature hole is a 102-foot waterfall behind the 13th green that pumps 5,000 gallons a minute.

TESTING HER NERVES: Playing in the Greater Hartford Open this summer might not be the most intimidated Suzy Whaley has felt on the golf course.

Whaley was 16 when she qualified for the 1986 U.S. Women's Open at NCR Country Club in Ohio. While most women played their practice rounds early, Whaley signed up for a slot at 3 p.m. to stay out of the way.

If only it were that easy.

"JoAnne Carner walked up on the tee and told me that she was playing with me, and I thought I would die," Whaley said.

Carner was her hero. Whaley had a poster of "Big Momma" on her bedroom wall, along with a scorecard that Carner had signed.

"I said, 'No, no, please, Miss Carner, you go first,'" Whaley recalled. "She said, 'No, I signed up with you, Let's go, put the tee in the ground and hit it.' I hit it airborne, pop-flied it about 100 yards down the middle of the fairway. She said, 'Way to go. You hit it.'

"It was probably one of the best days of my life," Whaley said. "She treated me unbelievably and was a very classy lady."

Now it's up to the guys on the PGA Tour to do the same. Whaley qualified for the Greater Hartford Open by winning a PGA sectional from a forward set of tees.

While Annika Sorenstam will play in the Colonial two months earlier, Whaley is the first woman to qualify for a PGA Tour event since Babe Zaharias in 1945.

SILLY SEASON MOVES: The Skins Game has a new home the next two years.

The original "Silly Season" tournament is moving to Trilogy at La Quinta in the California desert on Nov. 29-30. The four-man event had been played at Landmark Golf Club in Indio, Calif., the past four years.

This will be the seventh course used for the Skins Game in its 21-year history.

The Father-Son Challenge will move from Paradise Island in the Bahamas to ChampionsGate Resort in Orlando, Fla., and will be played Dec. 4-7.

The other change in the silly season is the UBS Cup, which will return to Sea Island, Ga., and be played Nov. 21-23, opposite the Presidents Cup.

PLAY GOLF AMERICA: More than 4,200 PGA professionals are ready to give free 10-minute golf lessons this month in the annual "Play Golf America" initiative sponsored by the PGA of America and Golf Digest magazine.

Last year, PGA of America teaching pros gave 74,923 lessons at 3,773 golf facilities across the country.

"The month of May has become a tradition for PGA professionals to dedicate their time to providing free lessons to help reach new golfers and improve the skills of those amateur golfers already playing the game," PGA president M.G. Orender said.

The roster of teaching pros involved in the program, and where to get the free lessons, can be found at www.pga.com, www.golfdigest.com, www.golfforwomen.com and www.TheGolfChannel.com.

DIVOTS: In his first tournament since winning the Masters, Mike Weir is grouped with runner-up Len Mattiace. ... Phil Mickelson, Tom Lehman and Fred Funk are among the Americans who will play in the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond the week before the British Open. It will be the first appearance by Mickelson at Loch Lomond since 2000. ... Vicki Fergon, 47, won on the Futures Tour last week and became the first woman to win on all three women's tours in the United States - the Futures Tour, the LPGA Tour and the Women's Senior Golf Tour. ... Don't count Davis Love III among those at the Colonial. Although it's one of his favorite stops, Love is skipping the tournament this year because his daughter has a horse show.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Peter Jacobsen, Curtis Strange and Jay Haas are the only players at the Wachovia Championship who also played in the 1979 Kemper Open, the last time the PGA Tour was in Charlotte.

FINAL WORD: "If you're Greg Norman, that's a full schedule for the year." - Davis Love III, on playing 13 times before the U.S. Open.

 

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