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Odd moments from the PGA Tour 2005

Some of the biggest news in golf came from spontaneous moments.

Jack Nicklaus was on his way home from a design project in Spain when he stopped in London for a brief chat with the media. He was asked about the British Open at St. Andrews, and Nicklaus said it would be his final major championship. And this time, he meant it.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was walking to the clubhouse during the finals of the Match Play Championship when he was asked an innocuous question about the future at La Costa Resort, which always seems to be under water. Out of the blue, he tipped his hand about massive changes in store for golf.

"We're looking at a lot of different things in the schedule," he said. "It's time to take a look at a number of parts of the schedule to see if we can make it more compelling."

Golf is always full of surprises, especially outside the ropes. Here are some other moments that went beyond birdies and bogeys, green jackets and pink skirts:

It is not unusual for players to help each other with tips, whether on the range or during a practice round.

Michael Campbell was playing with Vijay Singh at Pinehurst No. 2 early in the week of the U.S. Open when they got to the 15th hole. Campbell sought the advice of a three-time major champion on how to play the bunker shot.

"He told me to get your hands ahead of the ball and hit a floaty, running shot," Campbell said. "It pops out and high and floats, so there's no check spin."

On the last day of the tournament, Campbell had a two-shot lead when he hit into the bunker on No. 15. Using the tip from Singh, he blasted out to 6 feet to save par, the pivotal shot in his first major title.

Campbell did not see Singh again until they were at St. Andrews for the British Open. As they passed each other on the range, Campbell smiled and said, "Hey, thanks for the tip."

David Duval brought his family to St. Andrews for the British Open, but got off to a late start when he tweaked his back and had to spend an hour in the fitness trailer before his first practice round. He joined his group on the fourth hole, and was walking up the fairway when he stopped and took from his bag what appeared to be a range finder.

It was a digital camera.

Duval paused and took pictures of his stepsons on the Old Course -- Deano standing beside a pot bunker, Nick on the tee with Fred Couples and Davis Love III. Duval never looked more at ease.

He had another tough year, with more rounds in the 80s than the 60s. But on that day, Duval showed he is far from miserable on the golf course.

The relationship between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia can best be described as curt, and the 25-year-old Spaniard is not afraid to get under Woods' skin. That much was clear at The Players Championship.

The tour has a policy that practice rounds cannot start on the back nine after 8:30 a.m., but Garcia squeezed in front of Woods and Retief Goosen on Wednesday. Woods, who tees off at dawn and tries to finish before breakfast, found himself waiting on nearly every shot.

Worse yet, Kenny Mayne of ESPN joined Garcia for some fun on camera the last few holes.

"I'm going to hold up play for Tiger," Mayne said to Garcia as he took an extra putt on the 18th.

"Yeah, they're loving it," Garcia said.

Garcia is a friend of Goosen, and waited for him behind the green. As they chatted, Woods came over to shake Goosen's hand.

He never looked at Garcia, standing a shoulder's length away.

Robert Allenby had not played Doral in four years. He was walking by a row of lockers looking for the gold plate with his name on it when he gave up and asked the attendant, who showed him a locker with his name written on masking tape.

"You must have been one of the late entries, but we're working on it," the attendant told him. "We should have it up this afternoon, don't you worry. But it's great to see you again. We've missed you the last few years. It's great to have you back here."

Allenby was impressed with such star treatment, and was leaving to eat lunch when the attendant called after him.

"Oh, by the way Stuart, you get the upper and lower lockers," he said.

Allenby and Stuart Appleby are best friends from Australia who often are mistaken for each other, for no reason other than the spelling of their names.

Tiger Woods wasn't playing his best at Bay Hill, and he knew it. Waiting on the tee at the par-3 17th toward the end of the third round, he muttered to himself, "I (stink). I'll probably miss the cut next week."

Someone standing next to the tee reminded Woods that he since he left Stanford after two years and didn't get his degree, he was stuck playing golf for a living.

"I could always go to night school," Woods replied.

And what would be his major? Something like economics?

Woods smiled when he heard this.

"I don't need economics," he said. "That's why I left school in the first place."

Predictions can be a dangerous business in golf, although Adam Scott nailed one.

He was at the Sony Open discussing his plans for the early part of the season when someone asked why he was taking a month off from the PGA Tour.

"For a tour that tries to follow the sun, it seems we play under water a lot of the time," Scott said.

While there were weather issues on the West Coast, rain wasn't a factor until Scott returned to the PGA Tour at the Nissan Open, where only 36 holes were completed. Six of the next eight tournaments were delayed by rain, and Scott played in five of them.

Scott, by the way, won the Nissan Open in a playoff. But because it was only 36 holes, the PGA Tour didn't count it as an official victory. That means the 25-year-old Aussie did not qualify for the season-opening Mercedes Championships next week at Kapalua.

That's too bad. The weather is supposed to be gorgeous.

December 28, 2005

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