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The most likely scenario is for the Masters to take the winners of the six fall events and eliminate the category of top 30 on the PGA Tour money list.

To follow that model a year ago, there would have been two fewer players at the Masters and three fewer players in 2011 and 2010. And with the U.S. Amateur Public Links soon to go away that would free up another spot.

The Masters got away from inviting PGA Tour winners in 1999. That was the same year the World Golf Championships began, and with the WGCs came opposite-field events the same week. That’s a polite way of saying “watered-down fields,” and the Masters did not deem those winners worthy of an invitation.

Gabriel Hjertstedt won in Tucson the week of the inaugural Match Play Championship. He remains the only opposite-field winner to get invited to the Masters.

When it stopped inviting winners after 1999, the club said it was interested in the most consistent player throughout the year. That’s why the Masters is likely to continue taking the 30 players who qualify for the Tour Championship.

And perhaps it’s no coincidence that the tour is looking to tweak its FedEx Cup points system so that one high finish in the playoff events doesn’t get a player to East Lake (see Chez Reavie in 2011) and qualify him for three majors, including the Masters.

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THE TIGER EFFECT: Butch Harmon first worked with Steve Elkington in the 1980s, and his roster of clients has grown enormously over the years. He coached Greg Norman and Tiger Woods during their rise to No. 1, along with four players in the World Golf Hall of Fame _ Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Jose Maria Olazabal, Fred Couples.

But when he worked with President Barack Obama at The Floridian, he was referred to only as Woods’ former swing coach.

“I haven’t been with him for 10 years. It’s irritating to be honest,” Harmon said. “I guess they were looking for a connection because the president was playing with Tiger. But people think Tiger made me successful. No one remembers I took Greg to No. 1 in the world, or all the work with Elkington, or Davis Love III. It’s the press. Anything to sensationalize. And you’re dealing with a White House press that doesn’t know any of these names.”

Hank Haney, on the other hand, expects to be linked with Woods the rest of his life. Then again, Haney didn’t have such a long list of top golfers (except for Mark O’Meara) before coaching Woods, and he has said he won’t coach another.

“It’s a big honor to have coached Tiger,” Haney said. “You couldn’t have a better feather in your cap, especially with the success that Butch Harmon had with Tiger. In terms of my coaching career, obviously nothing can come close to the opportunity I had to work with Tiger Woods.

“I never hit any shots and Butch didn’t, either, he said. “My friend Bill Parcells always says it best. `You are what your record says you are.’ And so how Tiger played while you coached him certainly has a lot to say about you as a coach.”

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REST VS. RUST: Ian Poulter was never tempted to return to golf earlier than he planned, and it worked out just fine for him. After a six-week break after Kapalua, he returned at the Match Play and reached the semifinals, before losing to Hunter Mahan and then Jason Day in a meaningless consolation match.

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