TWIG: The return of Chuckie (at Disney)
Marco Dawson can take some comfort, even if he is 146th on the money list entering this week's Funai Classic at Disney. At least now he has company in the calling-a-penalty-on-a-player-the-day-after-their-round category. Rules wonks may recall that it was at Disney two years ago when Dawson waited two days to report an improper drop by Esteban Toledo which resulted in a DQ of Toledo after the second-round 66 got him comfortably under the cut line. That was the second time Dawson did something like that, by the way.
Hey, rules are rules, and in both cases -- Toledo's and Wie's -- the players were correctly disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. In the Disney incident, Toledo was incensed that a fellow tour player would wait until Sunday to raise the issue. In Wie's case, the problem is that not only was the penalty not brought to light until a day later, after she completed her final round, but that a reporter called the infraction, becoming part of the story rather than reporting it.
By the way, if the media is allowed to make the call, then can any of the reporters who covered the 2003 Fiesta Bowl between Ohio State and the University of Miami please contact the referee who made a phantom pass-interference call at the end of regulation? If he'll reverse that call then the 'Canes can rightfully have their sixth national championship. Or how about you guys who were at the New York Yankees-Baltimore Orioles playoff game back in '96? We all saw Jeffrey Maier reach over the wall to aid a crucial Derek Jeter home run. So what if it happened 3,200 or so days ago?
As for this week, don't expect any such controversy (we hope), though you might notice that This Week in Golf has a couple of new categories as we provide you with insight to who is trending up and who's trending down.
South Africans. Thanks to a couple of top-20 finishes, including a T-6 in Greensboro two weeks ago, Tim Clark secured spots in the Tour Championship and next year's Masters. Currently 18th on the money list (the top 40 at the end of the year get an invite to Augusta), Clark has also played well at Disney, posting a third-round 64 on his way to a T-6 there last year. A shortish hitter, the 5-foot-7 South African makes up for his lack of distance with accuracy and one of the game's most consistent putting strokes. Countryman Retief Goosen is also a good bet in the land of sunshine. After spending two months on the road, the Goose got some much-needed rest when he skipped the cross-country flight to San Francisco for the WGC-American Express Championship two weeks ago. He has only played Disney once, finishing T-18 two years ago, but, like Clark, went low with a 64.
Hunter Mahan. This week's bubble boy is No. 125 on the money list, but desperately needs to turn his game around if he hopes to avoid Q School. He's made just one cut in his last four events. For the year, Mahan, a two-time All-America at Oklahoma State and collegiate player of the year in 2003, has made just three more cuts than he's missed (17 to 14) and hasn't finished in the top 20 since the B.C. Open in July.
Kevin Stadler. After finding that one of his wedges had an inexplicably bent shaft as he started his third round, Stadler went from being tied for fifth in Las Vegas last week to being DQ'd. He's missed -- and made -- as many cuts as Mahan, by the way.
According to Steve Elling of the Orlando Sentinel, Jason Gore has yet to pay up on his $5 bet with Goosen at the U.S. Open. No worries: Both men will be at Disney this week and can settle up there. "Let's see if he remembers ... Maybe I'll make it $6 -- adding interest," Gore told Elling.
Every year, Charles Howell III seems to crank up his game late in the year. Last week he was fifth in Vegas. In '03 he won the Michelob and finished second at the Tour Championship. In '02 he finished third at the Michelob and second at the Tour Championship. Although he's never finished better than T-14 at Disney, Howell is currently 30th on the money list and a win would secure him a spot in the Tour Championship two weeks from now, not to mention a spot in the field for next year's Masters.
Brian Wacker is an assistant editor for GolfDigest.com