Tom Watson and Bill Murray each broke through at the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am at the TPC Tampa Bay, but it was a case of something old and something new. Murray, playing with his regular straight man, Scott Simpson, tried the latter. He charged $50 a pop to rprofessional autograph collectors seeking his signature on Caddyshack glossies and posters. At the awards ceremony he turned over his wad — $900 — to Jan Horn, the founder of the Clearwate charity Blooming Place for Kids. It was the first time Murray and Simpson had won a pro-am together after dozens of tries. The 57-year-old Watson, invigorated by his fine play at Pebble Beach the week before (19th overall, second in the pro-am), looked like his former self, carving shots in a Tampa wind that at times was arctic to get his first win in Florida in 94 pro starts in the state. Jay Haas, who is 0 for 105 in Florida, finished second. No word on whether Haas will sell autographs the next time he plays there…. Watson will skip this year’s British Open at Carnoustie to attend his daughter Meg’s wedding, which means that by the time the event returns to Carnoustie, Watson will be too old to play at the course at which, in 1975, he won the first of his five Open titles…. In his 54th year as a pro, Gary Player achieved a first during the Outback: He was penalized two shots for being late to his second-round tee time. Play was delayed 90 minutes for frost, and Player misunderstood the timing of the restart. Said Player, who shot an 80 for the day and 240 for the tournament, “I have no one to blame but myself.” Has Player learned nothing? You can always blame the media…. Perhaps Player could take a lesson from Arnold Palmer, who has always known how to work the press and continues to innovate in that area. When a writer who recently finished a golf book asked Palmer to provide a promotional blurb, Palmer said yes, but the publisher would first have to make a $1,000 donation to the charity of Palmer’s choice. Maybe all those writers who’ve penned glowing stories about the King for the last 50 years should’ve asked for a something up front, too…. Lee Trevino, 67, has been stuck on the sideline as he recovers from surgery he had on Dec. 28 in Dallas to repair a torn left rotator cuff. He hopes to be back for the Toshiba Classic, March 9-11.
• Pat Perez (nine under, 275) and Anthony Kim (eight under, 276) finished in the top 10 at the Nissan, which means they automatically qualify for the next week’s event, usually a plum perk for a struggling player. But the top 64 players will be teeing it up in the Match Play this week, so Perez and Kim get a free pass to the inaugural Mayakoba Classic near Cancun, Mexico, an event they almost certainly would’ve gotten into anyway…. Players preparing for the Mayakoba didn’t know what to expect, but Bill Haas had one thing figured out: “I’ll drink bottled water.”
• WOODS BABY NAME OF THE WEEK: Hogan Bracket.