- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Most of the big names in the field for this week’s Booz Allen Classic didn’t show up until yesterday, taking a day to rest and travel after the U.S. Open. The notable exceptions were former major champions Justin Leonard and Mark Brooks, who were on Avenel’s practice range Monday hoping a return to a familiar course might jump-start their seasons.

Brooks, the tournament’s 1994 champion, and Leonard, the 1997 winner, are off to slow starts, and each could be headed toward his worst year on tour. Brooks has made the cut in only two of his 17 tournaments this season. Leonard, only a few years ago considered among the world’s elite, has cracked the top 25 just three times in 15 events.

For each, the tournament comes at an opportune time. Leonard has four top-five finishes at Avenel and has never missed a cut here. Brooks has three top-10 finishes.

“It’s a course where I feel comfortable,” Leonard said. “I need to get on a roll, and I’ve had positive things happen here in the past. I always want to play here.”

Brooks, the 1996 PGA champion, and Leonard, winner of the 1997 British Open, have combined for 10 top-10 finishes in majors, but each has just one on tour this season. Leonard is ranked 51st in the world after ending 2003 in the 20th spot. Brooks is 327th.

Both missed the cut at last weekend’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y. Brooks arrived here to play Avenel Sunday.

“It’s a good tournament. They seem to have made some of the right moves in terms of improving the golf course,” Brooks said.

Fluff on hand

With Jim Furyk taking the week off after the U.S. Open to rest his wrist, Mike “Fluff” Cowan found another bag. The popular caddie will work for Mark Hensby after the Australian called Cowan last week.

“Mark just parted ways with a caddie who’s been working for him,” Cowan said. “I haven’t worked this tournament as many times as others, but I know my way around here pretty well.”

Cowan’s local knowledge is already coming in handy. When Hensby told him where he was staying, Cowan promptly recited directions to his player’s hotel.

Cowan, who worked for Peter Jacobsen until 1996, is best known for caddying for Tiger Woods from 1996 through 1998. Cowan has been Furyk’s regular caddie ever since and was on the bag for Furyk’s U.S. Open win in 2003.

Cowan, who still occasionally works for Jacobsen when Furyk isn’t playing, was used by Michelle Wie in May when she played the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill in Williamsburg.

Quote of the day

Duffy Waldorf on the PGA Tour commercial in which he ends up in Jesper Parnevik’s clothes after Parnevik enters a Salvation Army store in hopes of parting with his outlandish garb: “I don’t know about Jesper’s clothes now. I don’t fit too well in those. They don’t make my size in those silly styles.”

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