Tim Rosaforte checks in from the Tour Championship, where he relays Tiger's view from the sidelines, Kenny Perry's memories of Payne Stewart, and Jim Furyk's take on bye weeks
ATLANTA -- Tiger Woods was on the sidelines in Miami on Monday, gleaning from Indianapolis Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning, his pro-am buddy from the Quail Hollow Championship. Knowing the edge he gets from hanging out with elite athletes, I asked Tiger Wednesday at East Lake what he learns from Manning as opposed to Michael Jordan or Roger Federer, and Tiger almost couldn't get the answer out before the smile.
"Well, no one is trying to trip Jordan's head off, unless maybe he's playing the Pistons," Woods said. "But overall, it's just amazing the speed and how fast a decision he has to make." The Dolphins won the battle of ball control, burning minutes off the clock with their Wildcat offense, but every time Manning needed to lead the Colts to a score in the second half, he did, ultimately producing a come-from-behind win. "As we all know, I mean, the Colts, their defense is not the most powerful defense, so he has to score just about every single opportunity, and he does. You know he's got to throw it, and you still can't stop him. That's impressive." And in a way, it's also like Woods in the PGA Tour's last playoff tournament, the BMW Championship, where he won by 8 strokes.
Remembering Payne: Kenny Perry was honored with the Payne Stewart Award on Tuesday night with a reception hosted by the Southern Company at the Ritz-Carlton, but he never really got to know Payne during their days as contemporaries on tour. The first time they met was the Sunday of the MCI Heritage Classic at Hilton Head in 1989. Perry, fighting nerves and butterflies, was lacing up his spikes in front of his locker when he felt a tap on his shoulder. It was Stewart, his playing partner in the final group. "How the hell are you Kenny!" he said. Perry looked at him funny, not knowing what was going on, and then Stewart smiled. "He's got -- I don't know what you call those things, but I call them Bubba teeth. I don't know if he was mocking my Kentucky heritage or playing me a little bit." Stewart ended up winning the tournament by five strokes over Perry, but the story does not end there. A few months later, Perry bumped into Bob Estes. As he went to shake his hand, Perry noticed his mouth was swollen and figured Estes was wearing a pair of crooked teeth like Stewart. "I told him, 'Go take those things out!' He says, 'What are you talking about?' Perry came to find out Estes broke his jaw and had his teeth removed. "He looked like a guy from Eastern Kentucky," Perry said, laughing. "So I've got to thank Payne for one of the most embarrassing moments in my life."
No tears necessary: After playing six out of seven weeks, the concept of a bye week worked for Jim Furyk -- even if it potentially hurt some of the momentum built up by a second-place finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship. But Furyk, the die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, knows what the general sports fan is thinking about golfers needing a week off. "It's like feeling bad for a kicker because he had to run down the field and make a tackle," Furyk said. "No one is feeling real bad for him and no one is feeling bad for us that we're playing golf every day in beautiful places and making a good living." While he liked the idea of some down time, Furyk was the first to admit that he hates the bye week before the Super Bowl. "As a football fan ... it drives me completely insane," Furyk said.
Silent treatment: Heath Slocum became the early Cinderella of the playoffs with a win at the Barclays, but the real Cinderella was 21-month-old daughter Stella, who ran on the green at Liberty National during the trophy presentation, yelling, "Daddy! Daddy!" "The funny thing is how my daughter upstaged me," Slocum said Wednesday. "People are saying, 'Nice win, but your daughter was awesome.'" Awesome is a word to describe the $40,000 donation Slocum made through the Tour Championship to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and the Chron's and Colitis Foundation. Slocum was just recovering from colitis in 1997 when he met his wife to be at Oak Mountain GC in the western Atlanta suburb of Carrollton. Vicky Slocum, now pregnant and expecting their second child in January, was working behind the counter at the snack bar while attending the University of West Georgia. "He didn't have an opening line. He was a quiet guy so maybe that was it," Vicky said. "I remember he came in asking for a Coke and a Snickers. He was the guy who comes in, asks for the stuff, and leaves."