Rick Rhoden was a decent pitcher during his big-league career (1974-89), posting a 3.79 ERA and going 151-125. But it appears he has found his best sport after baseball. In a survey by Golf Digest, Rhoden (plus-2.5 handicap) was deemed the best athlete from another sport who is a golfer. Among the top 10 is 49ers backup quarterback Trent Dilfer, who is tied for eighth (plus-1.5).
Charles Howell III is on pace to be making as much money as Thurston Howell III. Howell is sitting third in the FedEx Cup standings heading into this weekend’s Players Championship on the strength of five top-10 finishes in 12 starts this season, including a playoff win over Phil Mickelson in the Nissan Open at Riviera Country Club. If he keeps up this pace, he will be among the elite players who can be considered a favorite in just about any tournament he enters. There will be plenty of favorites this weekend as 48 of the world’s top 50 players will be in the so-called fifth major.
The top players in the world will also get a chance to check out the extreme $50 million makeover at TPC Sawgrass. Most of it went into the clubhouse, a Mediterranean Revival style covering 77,000 square feet. The Stadium Course was refurbished to add a sand base to the fairway for better drainage and pumps are under every green to keep them firm and fast in any weather. It’s almost like a brand-new tournament — except for that darn island.
Some golfers — male and female — will think pink this weekend. Champ Spikes has launched a “Pink on the Links” program to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research, pledging donations on behalf of players who wear pink spikes on Mother’s Day at The Players Championship on the PGA Tour and at the Michelob Ultra Open on the LPGA Tour.
THIS WEEK’S TEE TIMES
EVENT: The Players Championship
WHERE: Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
COURSE: TPC Sawgrass, Players Stadium Course, par 72
DEFENDING CHAMP: Stephen Ames
EVENT: Michelob Ultra Open
WHERE: Williamsburg, Va.
COURSE: Kingsmill Resort & Spa, River Course, par 71
DEFENDING CHAMP: Karrie Webb
EVENT: Regions Charity Classic
WHEN: May 18-20
WHERE: Birmingham, Ala.</p>
COURSE: Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, par 72
DEFENDING CHAMP: Brad Bryant
EVENT: BMW Charity Pro-Am
WHEN: May 17-20
WHERE: Travelers Rest, S.C.
COURSE: The Cliffs Valley, par 72
DEFENDING CHAMP: Ken Duke
EVENT: Valle Romano Open of Andalucia
WHERE: Marbella, Spain
COURSE: Aloha Golf Club, par 72
DEFENDING CHAMP: None (inaugural tournament)