- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 16, 2001

DULUTH, Ga. For at least one week, golf's grandest stage is Wayne's world.
Two months after becoming the first wire-to-wire winner in the history of the PGA Club Professional Championship, Woodholme (Baltimore) teaching professional Wayne DeFrancesco was basking in his reward, a spot in this week's 83rd PGA Championship.
"It's great to get the chance to experience life out here every once in a while," DeFrancesco, 43, said yesterday as he sat in the plush players' locker room at the Atlanta Athletic Club. "I had a great game today with Fred Funk, Curtis Strange and Tom Kite. I played with Tom, and we took $10 off them."
The practice round match marked a reunion of sorts for DeFrancesco. He played a year of college golf with Strange at Wake Forest before transferring to LSU and has been close friends with Funk dating back to Funk's days as University of Maryland coach.
DeFrancesco, a two-time All-American at LSU and the SEC player of the year in 1979, is one of 25 club professionals who qualified to compete this week at the CPC..
"I believe that the participation of the club professionals is as important to this championship as the participation of David Duval or Tiger Woods or anybody else," said Duval, whose father, Bob, was a club pro in Jacksonville, Fla., for 30 years before joining the Senior Tour. "Those are the guys who put in the long hours at the country clubs, and I got to see it growing up with my father. Those are the guys who work hard and have to respond to members and to club managers and to directors of golf or directors of operations. Those are the ones who have the hard jobs."
DeFrancesco, who often stays on the range giving lessons at Woodholme from 8 a.m. until dusk, can attest to that. DeFrancesco was so busy teaching over the last few weeks that he didn't get any meaningful time to prepare himself for the 7,213-yard, par-70 brute that is AAC's Highlands Course.
"I was hitting it a lot better a month ago, but that's OK," DeFrancesco said. "If you don't do this all the time, it's ridiculous to come out here and expect to hold your own against these guys."
Still, DeFrancesco has made the cut at the PGA Championship before, finishing as low club pro (T71) at Riviera in 1995.
"Making the cut this week is almost too much to expect, because that means you beat half these guys," DeFrancesco said. "I did it in '95 and then didn't in '99. One out of three wouldn't be bad. Two out of three would be amazing for a guy like me. You'd like to be amazing, but I'm a realist."
Realism will make a major appearance today in the form of Australian comer Adam Scott and Chris Smith, DeFrancesco's playing partners at 7:45 a.m. and two of the longest players on Tour.
"This course will beat you up, because it's just so long, and if you hit it in the muff, the ball settles right to the bottom of the Bermuda and more often than not you just have to wedge out," DeFrancesco said. "It wasn't exactly made for me, because I'm a pretty short hitter and the fairways are still soft. If I really get on one, I can fly the ball 265 or 270 yards. That's all I've got. The guys I'm playing with, both of them are like, forget it, 60 yards longer than me. But I'll be back there behind them grinding it around and having one hell of a good time doing it."

A child shall lead them
Ernie Els has won the U.S. Open twice. Colin Montgomerie has been ranked in the top 10 for much of the past decade. They played a practice round for the PGA Championship with a 21-year-old who acted like both had something to learn from him.
Sergio Garcia spent most of the day giving them advice.
"Twenty-one-years old, giving Ernie and me tips," Montgomerie said yesterday, shaking his head. "That's how confident he was. If I was 21, playing with guys who had been top 10 in the world for a long, long time now … I wasn't that confident."
Montgomerie wasn't being critical. He was impressed.
The PGA Championship is where Garcia burst onto a worldwide stage, hitting that shot behind a tree with his eyes closed and challenging Tiger Woods until the end at Medinah.
This year Garcia has won twice on the PGA Tour and was in contention at the U.S. Open and the British Open.
"He was giving us tips all over the place, from the first tee on," Montgomerie said. "He was telling us how to play out of the rough. And Ernie and I looked at each other on the second tee and thought, 'This is different.' And it continued. But he's very, very good. Great talent. He has a fantastic future ahead of him."
Were the tips of any value?
"Yes, they were," Montgomerie said. "That was the scary thing. They were actually very good, things we didn't know."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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