By petedirenzo
Saturday, June 14, 2008

You never know what surprises await in the USGA’s vast merchandising tent. With the skies turning overcast and the air getting heavier and wetter, I ducked in this afternoon to browse the windbreakers. Since there was nothing less than $76—which even I would have trouble burying on an expense account—I was heading for the exit when I was stopped in my tracks by an announcement.
“New York Times best-selling author Jim Nantz is now signing his new book in the center aisle.”
While I was letting that sink in I ran into Martin Hardy, press attaché from one of Europe’s leading management companies. He was toting a pile of commemorative Torrey Pines flags.
“In case Westwood wins?” I asked.
“No,” said Martin. “They’re for Clarkey.”
That would be Darren Clarke, who is not in the field this week. Despite his emotional win last month—his first since his wife’s death in 2006—he is still only ranked 103rd in the world. Apparently Clarke wanted souvenirs from a major he was missing as a form of self-flagellation. Knowing this, I fully expect Clarke to return to the game’s upper echelon, and soon.

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