- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 9, 2004

I don’t mind if Michelle Wie uses Tiger Woods’ old caddy, Fluff Cowan. Just as long as Jesper Parnevik doesn’t try to hook her up with a Swedish nanny.

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The new “Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius” movie is no “Raging Bull,” but I did enjoy Jeremy Northam’s jaunty portrayal of Walter Hagen. Northam did a much better job with the role than Bruce McGill in “The Legend of Bagger Vance.”

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That’s right, folks, twice in the last four years Sir Walter has been a character in a major film. Which raises the question: Why doesn’t Hollywood do a flick about him? He was, after all, an infinitely more entertaining character than Jones — and won, between drinks, a total of 11 U.S. Open, British Open and PGA titles. That’s more than anybody except Jack Nicklaus (who won 12).

• • •

As usual, I hung around for the credits at the end of the picture, just to see if the director sneaked any relatives into it. Or a current sportswriter. Or even a recent golfer. No such luck. But I did get a kick out of one member of the cast being listed as “Woman hit in the leg.” That would be the actress (Rhoda Griffis) who was struck in the shins by a club thrown by Young Bobby. Tough way to make a living (especially if you’re wearing nylons instead of goalie pads).

• • •

There were some funny lines in the movie. At one point, a teaching pro advises a hapless golfer, “Take two weeks off from the game — and then give it up altogether.”

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I also wasn’t aware — I’m assuming this is true — that the reason there are 18 holes in golf is that, in Scottish lore, “There are 18 shots in a bottle of whiskey. … [And] when the bottle is empty, the round is done.”

• • •

Another memorable line was when Jones called a stroke penalty on himself for causing his ball to move, imperceptibly, while he was standing over it. Complimented for his sportsmanship afterward — he wound up losing the match by a single shot — Bobby cracked, “That’s like congratulating a man for not robbing a bank.”

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Couldn’t help noticing that Fredrik Jacobson withdrew from the Wachovia Classic after shooting a 66 in the first round and being tied for second. (His wife went into labor.) That’s got to be some kind of record, doesn’t it? (The 66-WD, I mean, not the wife going into labor.)

• • •

How hot are Florida sports the past few years? The Miami Hurricanes won a college football championship, the Bucs won the Super Bowl, the Marlins won the World Series and now the Lightning are taking a run at the Stanley Cup.

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And let’s not overlook Florida grad Jesse Palmer’s appearance on “The Bachelor.”

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Or Steve Spurrier getting paid $10million for winning 12 games in two years.

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Speaking of the Redskins, Rich Tandler’s history of Joe Gibbs’ first term, “Gut Check,” is now available at www.redskinsatoz.com for $11.95 (plus $3.95 for shipping and handling). Rich, who did an earlier book chronicling every game the Redskins have ever played, incorporated some of the same material into “Gut Check.” There’s plenty that’s new, though, and overall, it’s a much fuller treatment of the Gibbs years.

• • •

I’d forgotten — until I started flipping through the pages on the 1989 season — how traumatic a year that was for Coach Joe. His father died in October, Barry Wilburn and Dexter Manley were suspended for drugs in November (within nine days!) and the club struggled mightily until the final five weeks. Little wonder that Gibbs, worn down by it all, raised the possibility of retiring at one point (but quickly “clarified” himself).

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In the back of the book is a listing — with accompanying thumbnails — of everybody who played for the Redskins in those years. I was amazed at how many guys I had absolutely no recollection of … which brings us to this week’s trivia question. What do the following Gibbsskins have in common? Cris Crissy, Todd Frain, Don Graham, Michael Morton, Willard Reaves, Mike Scully, Jimmy Smith, J.T. Turner and James Wilder. (Answer below.)

• • •

Barry Bonds Stat of the Week: At his current pace (that is, through the Giants’ first 30 games) Bonds will be eligible for the National League batting title with just 308 at-bats. To qualify, a hitter needs 502 plate appearances, and Barry, with a projected 248 walks, would have 556. (Two years ago, he won the batting title with a mere 403 at-bats.)

• • •

Not only has baseball trimmed back its much criticized “Spider-Man 2” promotion, it’s also disavowing — and this is really sad — any knowledge of Del Webb.

• • •

Who’s gonna throw out the first ball — pool vixen Jeanette Lee (aka “The Black Widow”)?

• • •

Keith Olbermann on the “Spidey” flap: “What, you never saw Chico Bail Bonds in ‘The Bad News Bears’?

“In this most sentimental and historically oriented of our sports, there is outrage and more importantly, there is fear — fear that the day of the Chico Bail Bonds Yankees has just drawn closer.”

• • •

Actually, baseball has been down this road before. In 1976, after signing free agent pitcher Andy Messersmith to a big-bucks contract, Braves owner Ted Turner gave him the “nickname” Channel and had him wear it on the back of a No.17 jersey. Channel 17 was the TV station Turner happened to own. National League president Chub Feeney quickly called a halt to the charade.

• • •

Why would baseball risk such a public relations disaster for a measly $3.6million payoff? I mean, $3.6million isn’t enough to keep them in Big League Chew. It’s:

• The signing bonus received by Rickie Weeks, the Brewers’ first-round pick, in 2003.

• The sum of money Jaguars running back Fred Taylor was reportedly swindled out of by agent Tank Black.

• The total revenues for the UConn women’s basketball team in 2000.

• The size of the mortgage on former Washington Huskies football coach Rick Neuheisel’s waterfront home.

• The amount of back taxes Boris Becker once paid the German government.

• The winner’s share in the Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race (recently won by Pleasantly Perfect).

• The salary Ottawa Senators star Alexei Yashin walked away from in 2000, claiming he was underpaid.

• The loss suffered by Las Vegas sports books on football bets in October 2003.

• The cost of a high-resolution mass spectrometer, used to test athletes for drugs.

(Now I understand why baseball did what it did. It was trying to cover the cost of its new high-resolution mass spectrometer.)

• • •

Answer to trivia question: All those players played exactly one game with the Redskins. (But Wilder at least served the purpose of being included in a deal with the Lions for defensive tackle/culinary expert Eric Williams.)

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Who says there’s no justice in hockey? Todd Bertuzzi’s mugging of Colorado’s Steve Moore might have been one of the all-time cheap shots, but he and his Vancouver teammates are paying dearly for it. With Bertuzzi on suspension, the Canucks dropped a tough seven-game series to Calgary in the first round, losing the finale in overtime … and the Flames, of course, have advanced to the Western Conference finals, where they’ll meet Ron Wilson’s San Jose Sharks. I’ve gotta believe Bertuzzi, one of the best players in the NHL, would have helped Vancouver win one of those three one-goal games it lost to Calgary.

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Do you suppose there’s any cosmic significance to the fact that the $2million engagement ring Donald Trump gave model Melania Knauss cost only half as much as the I’m-a-baaad-boy bauble Kobe Bryant gave wife Vanessa?

• • •

And finally, Max Kellerman’s new show on Fox Sports Net will be called “I, Max.” If it doesn’t find a decent-sized audience, though, critics will start calling it, “Why, Max?”

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