DiMarco making a habit of coming up short
Headline writers rejoice, as this piece of information is likely to spur plenty of cutesy captions in big bold ink:
Tim Petrovic is a big-time Doors fan.
That's right, the man who defeated James Driscoll on the first playoff hole to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans lists Jim Morrison among his idols. So it will be only fitting to read that "Petrovic breaks on through to the other side" or "Petrovic lights his fire in New Orleans."
But the Weekly 18 won't sink to that level. Instead, we start with the tale of lovable loser Chris DiMarco, for whom it was once again "strange days" indeed.
It's really quite unbelievable, if you think about it.
Since early in the 2002 season, DiMarco has competed in 87 events. He's finished in the top three in 10 of them. He's risen to eighth in the World Ranking.
And yet, he hasn't won.
His most recent near-miss came during Sunday's final round of the Zurich Classic. Leading by one stroke after the completion of the third round in the morning, DiMarco shot a final-round 72 that included a bogey on the par-5 18th hole. He was pin-high just off the green in three but couldn't get up and in, instead rolling his birdie putt five feet past and missing the par attempt. That left him one stroke out of the playoff.
Of course, there have been plenty of other close calls. He lost last year's PGA Championship in a three-man playoff but didn't sweat it, saying, "It's nice to be in a major championship with a chance to win, though." He fell to David Toms in the finals of this year's Match Play Championship but remained upbeat: "Considering we had a smooth $19,600 going into this week, I feel pretty good now." He battled back against Tiger Woods at The Masters only to lose on the first playoff hole, acknowledging, "That was about as much fun as I've had in a day."
Upbeat. Positive. Great attitude. It's one of the reasons that DiMarco has endeared himself to fans around the world but could also explain why he hasn't won since the '02 Phoenix Open. Perhaps DiMarco lacks that certain killer instinct. Perhaps he can't pass the mental barrier of winning a tournament once again.
Or perhaps DiMarco simply isn't that good. After all, the eighth-ranked player in the world should be able to win an event at least once every three years.
If Mark Johnson, the former beer truck driver and current Champions Tour player who won earlier this season, can be called Beer Man, it's only a matter of time until Petrovic is dubbed Pizza Guy. Earlier in his career, Petrovic worked as a baker for a pizza chain when funds were short in his golfing career. He eventually worked his way back onto the mini-tours and has been a PGA Tour fixture since 2002. Now we'd just like to see Petrovic and Johnson in a two-man best-ball event. After all, nothing goes together like pizza and beer.
Had Driscoll won the Zurich, it would have been a fairly improbable victory. After all, he had made the cut in only four of the previous 10 events he started this season. But it still wouldn't have been the most remarkable moment for any golfer from Driscoll's hometown. That honor belongs to -- as it always will -- Francis Ouimet, a fellow Brookline, Mass., native who won the 1913 U.S. Open virtually in his backyard at The Country Club.
It's funny how much things can change in just five years. Back in 2000, Jeff Quinney defeated Driscoll in extra holes at the U.S. Amateur. On Sunday, Driscoll was right in the thick of things at the Zurich Classic, losing in the playoff, but his fellow finalist was nowhere to be found. So far this season, Quinney has competed in one PGA Tour event and five on the Nationwide Tour and hasn't made the cut in any of them.
If you haven't paid much attention to Lucas Glover this year, well, it's time to start. The second-year member of the tour finished T-3 in the Big Easy, his fifth top 10 finish in only nine starts on tour so far this year. The $808,273 he has earned this year should already ensure him of a tour card for next season -- a mighty feat for a player who had to return to Q School in December to regain fully exempt status (he finished 135th on the 2004 money list). Where could Glover contend next? Look no further than this week's Wachovia Championship, where he earned a T-10 last season, tying his best finish of the year.
Perhaps we just have a soft spot for players with five-letter first and last names, but Arjun Atwal and Ryuji Imada have proven their games are PGA Tour-ready after years of bouncing around smaller tours around the world. Both rookies this season, Atwal was the second-round leader in New Orleans before finishing T-5; Imada started strong with a 68 to earn his eighth made cut in 11 starts. We suppose fellow rookie Brian Davis qualifies for this list also, though he's already a proven winner on the Euro Tour. In related news, Woods and Vijay Singh are pretty good, too (yup, that five-letter thing again).
If you can figure out Hank Kuehne, give us a call. Please. One week ago, the Texas native missed the cut at the Houston Open, an event in which he finished T-2 just two years earlier. In fact, his entire season was littered with MCs, as he only reached the weekend in two of his 12 starts entering the Zurich. But Kuehne started with two rounds of 69 to not only make the cut but also remain among the leaders until eventually dropping to T-21, his best finish of the season.
What is it with these long bombers? Kuehne goes from good to bad, just like that, while John Daly goes from good to, well, not so good in the span of one week. After reaching a playoff at the Houston Open, Daly opened with rounds of 75-77 to miss the cut by seven strokes. He made nine bogeys and two double-bogeys in those 36 holes.
Woods will return from a three-week hiatus following his Masters win to play in this week's Wachovia Championship. Playing in the tournament for the first time last year (it debuted in 2003), Woods was the second-round leader before dropping with a Saturday 75. He came back to 68 in the final round, good enough for a share of third place, one stroke behind Joey Sindelar and Arron Oberholser.
Ernie Els was surely pleased with his 13-stroke win at the BMW Asian Open on Monday in China (the event was supended during Sunday's final round). Still, it's really a shame that he didn't play in New Orleans. The Big Easy in the Big Easy? The marketing possibilities are endless.
Sure, it's been running for a while, but the PGA Tour commercial featuring Singh prepping for the season by putting on a frozen lake in front of two spectators is a gem. Anyone who questions Singh's personality -- or lack thereof -- should be forced to watch this ad; the icy frost on Vijay's eyebrows alone is good for a laugh.
He's served on the Wake Forest Board of Trustees. He's honored in the school's Hall of Fame. He has a residence hall named after him. And this year, on May 16, Arnold Palmer will deliver the commencement address at his alma mater. It's been 51 years since Palmer claimed the first ever ACC Championship, but The King still has strong ties to the university. A speaking engagement by any other 75-year-old golfer would most likely be considered a snoozer for college grads, but Arnie's effervescent personality will shine in this format. If nothing else, he'll have 1,450 new fans by the end of his speech.
Jim Thorpe didn't just win the FedEx Kinko's Classic on Sunday; he ripped victory from the jaws of defeat and never let go. Thorpe made four birdies and a par in the final five holes to beat Dana Quigley by four strokes. It was his 10th career Champions Tour title.
If she's not careful, Lorena Ochoa may just turn into the LPGA Tour's version of DiMarco. For the third time in her last five starts, Ochoa was the runner-up on Sunday, finishing three strokes behind Stacy Prammanasudh at the Franklin American Mortgage Championship. Last year, Ochoa won twice but had 10 other top-five finishes. She's got a ton of potential but still needs to learn how to win consistently on tour.
The newest craze sweeping the professional ranks is a product called the Heavy Putter. As you can guess, this flatstick is weighted heavier than most other standard putters. As for its success rate, we need look no further than Troy Matteson, who won last week's Virginia Beach Open on the Nationwide Tour using the Heavy Putter. He ranked fifth on tour in putting average and 29th in putts per round entering this past week. Company officials say many other players on all tours are currently using this putter, but they are prohibited from releasing their names since these players don't have sponsorship deals with the company; they are simply carrying the Heavy Putter because they like it.
One of the most-asked questions from golf fans these days is, "Whatever happened to that Ty Tryon kid?" Well, young Ty is alive and well and, yes, still playing golf. No longer exempt on the PGA or Nationwide Tours, Tryon is biding his time on the NGA Hooters Tour. Last week, he shot 71-67 in the first two rounds to remain five off the lead entering the weekend, but he was late to his third-round tee time, arriving eight minutes after his scheduled start (players have only five minutes to show up). He was subsequently disqualified. But this week, Tryon came back to finish T-5 at the Savannah Lakes Resort Classic. He is currently 29th on the money list.
Chez Reavie is a player whose name is recognizable to fans of the amateur ranks. The winner of the 2001 Public Links Championship and a standout at Arizona State, Reavie has yet to live up to those standards as a professional. But he did pick up a victory this week at the final event on the Grey Goose Gateway Tour's spring season. Reavie shot a final-round 64 to come back from five strokes down at the beginning of the day.
"I don't think I can remember a last time where I've been congratulated so many times for losing."
-- DiMarco, speaking of his Masters runner-up finish to Woods
Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com
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