- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 30, 2002

Who's the highest-ranked player entered in this week's Kemper Open?
It's not Justin Leonard or Jose Maria Olazabal. When asked yesterday how it felt to be the top player in the field not on the money list but in world golf rankings Chris DiMarco laughed and almost dismissed the insinuation that he should be regarded as the favorite this week.
"That thing shuffles every week. It's kind of crazy," said DiMarco, 33. Being the top player in the tournament "kind of feels pretty cool. But there are still 143 players here that can whip my butt any day of the week. There are a lot of players [here] that can play golf that you haven't heard of yet."
DiMarco has a point. With Fred Couples, Greg Norman, Tom Lehman and Olazabal, this year's field surely has its share of big names, but five of the last nine Kemper champions were first-time winners, including the last three. So there is a history of lesser-known players succeeding at Avenel.
DiMarco is the de facto favorite this week because he's had top-25 finishes in four of his last five tournaments, including fourth at the Compaq Classic. After nearly stumbling midway through the final round, he won the Phoenix Open in late January and also had top-10 finishes at the Bob Hope Classic and the Nissan Open. DiMarco pulled out of the Memorial last week because of some soreness in his left shoulder, but he is ready to go this week.
In last year's Kemper, DiMarco fired an opening-round 65 for a share of the first-round lead and trailed by two strokes after three rounds. He managed a one-over 72 on the final day to finish tied for ninth.

Stacked hackers?
With a couple of heavy-hitting major league baseball players having recently admitted steroid use, athletes in other sports likely will get more questions about drug use in their respective sports.
Maybe golfers don't have to get defensive.
"I don't think putting any kind of drug in your body would be good in the long run," 2001 Kemper Open champ Frank Lickliter said. "That's how our sport is different. Out of all the guys, I'd say 100 percent wouldn't think about doing [steroids], including myself."

Caddie corner
As he put it, to the average golfer, "Fluff" owner of a distinguishing bushy gray mustache and the distinction of accompanying Tiger Woods to his record Masters victory in 1997 is arguably the most recognizable caddie on the PGA Tour.
But Mike Cowan Fluff's lesser-known moniker is a regular locally too, having lived in Rockville for the last three years with his wife, Jennifer. He plays frequently at Congressional and also plays Whiskey Creek and Worthington Manor, among other area courses.
"I love golf and everything about it," said Cowan, 54. "I'm not thinking about when it's going to end. As long as I'm feeling healthy and my legs hold up, I can't see doing anything else."
He normally caddies for Jim Furyk, who won the Memorial last week and is not playing the Kemper, but this week he will be with Peter Jacobsen, for whom he caddied from 1978 through 1996, when he began working with Woods.

From the clubhouse
Charles Hong, a Whitman High School graduate and Bethesda resident, joined John Curley, James Sullivan and Michael Pearson late Tuesday as qualifiers. David Berganio Jr. withdrew yesterday, allowing Guy Boros to enter the 156-player field.

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