Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pick your favorite foursome

If you could three golfers to round out a foursome, who would you choose? Living or dead, makes no difference.

There are so many from which to choose. Lee Trevino, who once threw a rubber snake at Jack Nicklaus before teeing off an 18-hole playoff at the 1971 U.S. Open; the great ball-striker Ben Hogan; Bobby Jones, the greatest amateur ever; smooth-swinging Slammin' Sam Snead; Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus.

Well, you get the picture.

I was having so much trouble just picking three so I divided my lists into different categories. First, golfers no longer with us; second, golfers who are retired from competitive play; third, golfers now playing on a Tour; and lastly, female golfers.

So let's get to it.

I'd first choose Payne Stewart, Bobby Jones and Sam Snead.

I remember exactly where I was while watching Stewart win the 1999 U.S. Open, just four months before he died. My goal is to one day play consistently enough to dress like Stewart in honor of him.

Jones once called a penalty on himself at the 1925 U.S. Open after his ball moved slightly in the rough. Because no one saw the infraction, officials left the call up to him. He said it moved, incurred a two-stroke penalty and lost by one.

Snead comes from rural Virginia near the border of West Virginia, my home state, so I have sort of a connection there. Plus, he's the winningest golfer in PGA history.

For the next category, I'd choose Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Arnold Palmer.

Nicklaus and Palmer were part of the Big Three (along with Gary Player) in the 1960s. They typically battled head to head and raised golf's popularity significantly. Nicklaus won 18 Majors, more than anyone else, and he actually had more Major runner-up finishes (19) than any other golfer. Palmer gave us Arnie's Army and that popular drink named in his honor - iced tea and lemonade.

And as far as Trevino goes. Come on. Anyone who will throw a rubber snake at his opponent just before a playoff ... I wanna party with him. Actually, the real story goes that Trevino forgot he had the toy in his bag and that Nicklaus saw it and told Trevino to throw it to him.

But the legend is far more funny.

Third picks go to Padraig Harrington, Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate.

Arguably, the greatest golfer of all time, Woods still is chasing Nicklaus on the Majors wins' list and both Snead and Nicklaus for all-time wins. But he's close.

After seeing Mediate up close at the Buick Open this year, I think he's pretty loose on the golf course. And funny, too.

I don't know why I'd choose Harrington. He had a great run in the Majors last year, but this year, he's had bad luck at a couple of holes in tournaments that put him out of contention. But he never cried foul.

Lastly, I'd go with Michelle Wie, Christina Kim and Paula Creamer.

OK, many of you might be wondering why I left off Natalie Gulbis. Well, if I had said "hottest golfers," she would on the list. I'm not saying that Wie, Kim and Creamer aren't hot; I'm saying the category is female golfers.

Kim is one of the more flamboyant players on the LPGA Tour, and I want to have fun on my round of golf. Plus, she can play.

I think Wie is coming into her own after breaking all the age records in women's golf. She's still a teenager - she'll be 20 in October - but she really showed me something at the Solheim Cup last month in Illinois. As impressive as she was as a kid competing against adults, I think she'll be more impressive as an adult competing against other adults.

And Creamer. Although she's been on the Tour for just four years, she's already won nine times and near the top 25 in earnings. Nice.

So there you have it. That's who I'd pick.

Who would you pick?

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