So the hottest golfer on the planet is ... no, not Tiger Woods. It's Karrie Webb, whose only mistake so far this year is that she's playing on the LPGA Tour.
Webb has won all three of her official LPGA Tour events in 2000, a streak that hasn't happened since Jo Ann Carner did the same thing in 1982. That's good for Webb. What's bad for Webb is that hardly anybody has noticed.
She won the Office Depot in Florida, the Australian Ladies Masters (in Australia, naturally) and the Takefuji in Hawaii. What's next? The Lisbon Open?
Despite having its deepest wealth of talent in years, there is so much to knock the LPGA about, but its penchant for weird scheduling has to be No. 1.
Case in point: After beginning the year with two events in Florida, there were no events for two weeks, then the Los Angeles Women's Championship, then an event in Hawaii, one in Australia and another in Hawaii.
Most people get jet lag just thinking about it, much less finding some continuity in the thing. As for Webb, she is far and away the No. 1 women's player in the world. Webb is only two short of Nancy Lopez's record of five straight victories, in 1978.
Actually, Webb has won four in a row, but the Australian Open isn't counted because it is not an official LPGA event.
Webb, who is taking this week off, returns to the tour next week at the Standard Register Ping. When the Nabisco Championships starts at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage in two weeks, Webb will doubtless be the favorite to win the LPGA's first major of the year.
Webb already has nine come-from-behind victories in her career, including last week in Hawaii when she ran down third-round leader Annika Sorenstam and beat her in a playoff.
THE TIGER-TV FACTOR
Does this really sound surprising? According to a report in The New York Times, the 11 CBS telecasts of golf events in 1999 that had Woods as a player averaged a 4.1 rating -- about 71 percent higher than the seven CBS telecasts that didn't have Tiger as a player.
THE TIGER FACTOR II
In its March 20 issue, Forbes lists its ''Celebrity 100,'' the top sports and entertainment celebrities in the world, ranked according to income and ''media buzz.'' Woods checks in at No. 2, right behind Michael Jordan.
PRICE OF FAILURE
Since losing the British Open in spectacular fashion, Jean Van de Velde has signed endorsement or equipment deals with E-commerce sporting goods retailer Fogdog Sports, Never Compromise putters, Cleveland irons and Dunlop's Srixon golf.
Defeat must have its advantages.
Said Van de Velde: ''It's been profitable.''
For what it's worth, only 51 players in the field of 144 at Doral wore metal spokes.
Also for what it's worth, Woods is the first golfer to appear on the cover of Sport magazine since Jan Stephenson in 1977.
IT'S A HARD JOB
If there's anyone who still has any doubt about how difficult it is to win for the first time on the PGA Tour, just check the landscape that's littered with the remains of Matt Gogel and now Langham.
Gogel had a seven-shot lead over Woods with seven holes to play at Pebble Beach and lost by two. Langham had a six-shot lead with seven holes to go over Jim Furyk at Doral and lost by two.
Now, consider two recent winners. Jim Carter, 38, won at Tucson in the 292nd tournament of his career. The week before at the Nissan Open, 37-year-old Kirk Triplett won his first event after 265 tournaments.
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