Originally created 09/05/01

Golf notebook



Phil Mickelson is the clear choice as "best player to have never won a major," a label he considers a compliment. More open for debate is another list that comes to mind this time of the year - best American to have never played on a Ryder Cup team.

It probably starts with John Daly, the only player in the modern era to have won two majors without ever playing in the matches.

Daly doesn't expect to make a team, and sounds as though he doesn't care because of the nasty tone the Ryder Cup has taken on in recent years.

"It's gotten to the point where you might as well put boxing gloves on," Daly said at the BMW International Open. "I couldn't care less about playing in something where you're going to get booed. This game was not invented for that."

Daly won his two majors in Ryder Cup years - the '91 PGA Championship when he was an unknown, and the '95 British Open. He needed to finish fifth at the PGA that year, missed the cut and captain Lanny Wadkins took Fred Couples and Curtis Strange.

The list of Ryder Cup absentees evolves around major championship winners.

Mark Brooks won the PGA and two other tournaments in 1996, but changed equipment and had only one top-10 finish a year later, when points were worth double. Steve Jones fared a little better. He won the '96 U.S. Open, then won the Phoenix Open by 11 strokes early in 1997. He finished 12th in the standings, with Brooks at No. 13.

Tom Kite used his captain's picks on Lee Janzen and Fred Couples.

The other two major champions since 1970 who were left off teams were Bob Tway and Jeff Sluman, both victims of bad timing. Tway won four times in 1986, including the PGA, but had only one finish in the top 3 the next season. Sluman won the 1988 PGA, but never finished higher than fourth the next year.

George Archer (Masters) and Orville Moody (U.S. Open) each won majors in 1969, but didn't earn enough points to make the team.

The best American to never play on a Ryder Cup team probably is a toss-up between Tway and Jones, with a slight edge to Tway.

Of those who haven't won majors, it's a short list that starts with John Huston, who has six career victories. All of them came during non-Ryder Cup years.

HOUSEGUEST: Jesper Parnevik and Sergio Garcia went 3-1-1 at the Ryder Cup and are likely to be paired again at The Belfry.

"We had a lot of fun last time, but he's so hyper it's unbelievable," Parnevik said.

Apparently, Garcia has even more energy off the course. Parnevik found out the hard way when he invited Garcia to stay at his south Florida house for three days before the PGA Championship.

"Man, my head was spinning. ... He's going 24 hours a day," Parnevik said. "He's just full speed. He wakes up early and then he just goes. He took care of the kids for a while and he was chasing the nannies around pretty much the rest of the time. Between then, he was just bugging me."

TRYON'S CHANCE: Now that he has turned pro, it won't be long before 17-year-old Ty Tryon gets a chance to earn some money.

The high school junior from Orlando, Fla., likely will make his professional debut at the Tampa Bay Classic next week. Because it is opposite a World Golf Championship and should have no problem filling the field with Q-school graduates, the tournament is expected to get two extra sponsor's exemptions.

Tournament director Gerald Goodman said one is reserved for Bryce Molder, the other for Tryon.

Also on tap is Tryon's first tournament with Tiger Woods in the field. IMG agent Jay Danzi said Tryon is scheduled to play the Lancome Trophy in France.

Tryon also has asked for a sponsor's exemption to the National Car Rental Classic at Disney. Even though the teen lives in Orlando, that might be a difficult sell because Disney only has two exemptions and already has received 50 requests.

TIGER TOMS: When David Toms was a student at LSU, he used to rush back from golf tournaments to watch football games in Tiger Stadium.

The PGA Champion finally made it onto the field last week.

Toms received a standing ovation from about 90,000 fans when he was introduced before LSU's season-opening victory over Tulane.

FUNK'S INJURY: Fred Funk is playing out the rest of the season with a shoulder injury and hopes he can get by without surgery. The short-but-straight hitter was riding his son's trail bike a few weeks ago when he crashed over the handle bars.

"We did an MRI and there's nothing wrong with the shoulder," Funk said. "There's a fatty ball under the armpit that hits a nerve. It's painful. I lost my natural swing."

Funk is worried that any surgery, while not serious, could still require extensive rehabilitation.

"They're saying it will either be a three-week or a six-month rehab," he said. "The six-month sounds scary."

Especially with the schedule he keeps. Funk has played at least 30 tournaments every year since 1991.

DIVOTS: John Cook's victory in the Reno-Tahoe Open was the eighth this year by a player in his 40s. The others are Scott Hoch (twice), Mark Calcavecchia, Hal Sutton, Jeff Sluman, Kenny Perry and Tom Pernice. ... Europe was on the verge of being without a major champion on its Ryder Cup team for the first time until Bernhard Langer secured a spot. ... John Daly will not get credit for tying the European tour record with a 261 at the BMW International Open because players were allowed to lift, clean and place in the third round.

STAT OF THE WEEK: While Tiger Woods has finished in the top 10 in 65 percent of his PGA Tour events (69 of 106), he'll have do even better to catch Ben Hogan. In 292 tournaments, Hogan had 241 finishes in the top 10 - 83 percent.

FINAL WORD: "Let's put it this way - he does a lot of dishes." - Juli Inkster, when asked who wins when she plays her husband, Brian, the head pro at Los Altos Country Club in California.