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Parnevik is kicked off European Tour

Of the nine players who decided not to play the World Golf Championship event at Valderrama, none made such an impact as Jesper Parnevik.

By skipping the American Express Championship, Parnevik fell one tournament short of the 11 required to retain full membership on the European tour. That caused the tour to drop him from its official money list.

Who benefits? John Bickerton and Jeremy Robinson.

Bickerton moved up to the 20th spot on the Order of Merit on Tuesday, which qualifies him for the $5 million event -- and a chance to win more money this week than he has in his five years on tour.

Robinson may be even more grateful. He was 116th on the money list before Parnevik backed out, and now moves up one spot -- just enough to avoid going back to Q-school.


Davis Love III will have one more chance to get back to Kapalua for the winners-only Mercedes Championship in Hawaii.

Love was leaning toward staying home this week after finishing second in the Tour Championship, but told the PGA Tour on Tuesday he was on his way to Valderrama. He is one of several stars who have gone without a victory this year, thanks in part to Tiger Woods and David Duval winning 11 tournaments between them.

Love has gone only one year this decade without winning a PGA Tour event. But would he consider 1999 a failure if he goes winless?

No -- and it has nothing to do with his $2.4 million in earnings.

``I came close a lot, but I won't look back on this year as a disappointment just because of the Ryder Cup,'' he said.<


The PGA of America hopes to decide later this week what do about Payne Stewart's spot in the Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii, the match play tournament for the winners of the four major championships.

The likely result is for his spot to go unfilled, as it was in the Tour Championship, and for Tiger Woods, Paul Lawrie and Jose Maria Olazabal to play stroke play.

Meanwhile, the PGA Tour allowed one more player -- Doug Dunakey at No. 132 -- to keep his card because the money list affects next year's status.

Also, Stewart's name will continue to appear in the world ranking until the end of 1999, subject to a review by the board.


When Phil Mickelson finished one stroke behind Payne Stewart in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, it was his most crushing blow in a major championship.

Now, Mickelson considers it a blessing. It turned out to be the last major in which Stewart contended -- and won -- before he was killed Oct. 25 in a plane crash.

``I never thought I'd say this, but I'm glad Payne won now,'' he said during the Tour Championship. ``I expect to have a lot of opportunities, and that was his last one. If I had to do it over again, I would have him making that putt.''

Mickelson, like Ryder Cup captain Ben Crenshaw, is a big believer in fate.

If Stewart had not made that 15-foot putt on the 72nd hole, Mickelson said he would have missed the first part of his wife's labor and might not have made it home to Arizona in time to witness the birth of his daughter, born the day after the Open.

``Nobody in history has made a (15-foot) putt to win by a shot on the final hole,'' he said. ``It was done for a reason. That tournament means a lot, and it was difficult to accept losing. But it makes losing easy to accept now. I wouldn't have it any other way.''


The PGA Tour was hopeful that its Tour Championship and the WGC event in Spain, two $5 million events, would provide a nail-biting conclusion to the end of the year with several awards up for grabs.

Tiger Woods spoiled that.

Going into the American Express Championship, Woods has a $1.97 million lead over David Duval and has wrapped up the Arnold Palmer award for leading the money list. He also is a lock for the Byron Nelson for lowest scoring average, provided he manages to break 90.

One honor that won't be decided until later is the Jack Nicklaus award, a vote by PGA Tour members for its player of the year. Wonder who that will be?

The only suspense this week is rookie of the year, which will come down to Carlos Franco and Notah Begay, both two-time winners.


The developmental tours are starting to get richer. Along with a 55 percent increase on the Tour (formerly Nike Tour), the Hooters Tour will increase first-place money from $15,000 to $20,000 and add a year-end Tour Championship. First place for that will be $60,000. ... Winning at Valderrama this week would give Tiger Woods a victory in every month since May (including the Ryder Cup). ... PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem says a First Tee program likely will be established in Missouri in Payne Stewart's honor. ... While David Duval is finished with official events this year, he will play with Fred Couples in the Shark Shootout next week, and also in the Skins Game on Thanksgiving Weekend. ... Among the big winners last week in Mississippi were Paul Stankowski, who went from No. 140 on the money list to No. 113 with his third-place finish. The heartbreak award goes to Blaine McCallister, who missed keeping his card by one stroke. ... Jose Maria Olazabal, who withdrew from the Volvo Masters Sunday with back pain, spent all of Monday in bed and is still not sure if we will play in the American Express Championship on Thursday. ... A courtesy car was waiting at the airport in Malaga, Spain, for Mike Hicks, the caddie for Payne Stewart.


With earnings from the majors, two World Golf Championship events and his lone appearance in Europe, Tiger Woods would be leading the European tour's money list.


``You're not going to ride your bike 50 miles to go to work. That's just not realistic'' -- Tiger Woods, on travel concerns after Payne Stewart's death in a plane crash.