Friday, March 22, 2002

Trunk-Slammers and Cut-Makers

A "trunk-slammer" is a professional golfer who, at the end of Friday's round, fails to qualify for weekend play. In the telling of the tale, he stomps into the parking lot, tosses his clubs into the back of the car and slams the trunk door as hard as he can in enraged frustration. In reality, he heads into the locker-room and dials up the airlines to rebook his reservation from Sunday night to late Friday afternoon or early Saturday morning. Either way, it's a lousy way to end a day.

The cut-makers at this year's Players Championship are pretty much who you would expect to be playing on the weekend. Ernie Els probably had the best round of the day today (68, 4-under) and worked himself back to level par, six shots off the lead. Tiger Woods shot 72 today and is five shots back. Nick Faldo continued his fine play and is three shots off the lead. Phil Mickelson fell back a bit, but finished nicely and goes into tomorrow one shot off the lead. You can see the full leaderboard by clicking here.

There are a number of interesting sidebars at The Players Championship. One is the excellent play of newcomers David Gossett and Charles Howell. Gossett is only three shots off the lead. Another is the new-found length of Jose Maria Olazabal, who is hitting his tee shots 25-30 yards further than he has in the past. This bodes well for Olazabal at Augusta. Another is the continued strong play of the Rhode Islanders, Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade. Both men are in the hunt (as they have been a lot this year). But the most interesting thing (to me, at least) is David Duval's game, which appears to be markedly improved.

One of my favorite sports cliches is "he's hitting the ball with crisp authority." Duval is hitting the ball with crisp authority. If there's a sleeper at the Players, it's him.