No sleep, no problem
Pro Joey Sindelar had quite a scare Friday night, and without any sleep, he shot a pretty good round (69). Sindelar, 52, who suffered a pulmonary embolism last fall, spent the night at St. Joseph's Hospital undergoing tests on his heart and lungs after feeling shortness of breath. But after finding out he was fine at 5:30 a.m., he went out and played his best golf of the tournament. "Zero sleep — I may have found a new formula," he joked. Sindelar said he started feeling it on the first hole Friday, but he seemed fine until "all of a sudden, it was like a beach ball appeared in my belly and the butterflies were flying."
"It was very shaky, but I'm glad it's over," he said. "It's a good reminder, a good wakeup (call)."
Link to the links
Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber has a special reason to remember one of his first "forays" into golf; he had just finished up a round one day in June 1997 when he found out he was drafted by Tampa Bay in the third round. His twin brother, Tiki, drafted in the second round by the Giants, was alerted by a clubhouse attendant when he got picked. A couple of hours later, Ronde got the call while at dinner. While the day was memorable, Barber's golf wasn't. "I was awful," he said.
Dream come true
St. Petersburg resident Mike Finster is living a dream this weekend. Finster, a regional manager at GAF-Elk Corporation, has played with pro Tom Pernice in the pro-am, saying it's "everything I thought it'd be and more." Finster, 44, had to go through a best-ball qualifier at the Bayou Club in Largo and advance to a stroke play qualifier in February at TPC Tampa Bay to earn a spot in his first tour event. Finster's team shot 6 under Saturday for a two-day total of 13 under and made the pro-am cut for today. Finster has relished every moment. He credited Pernice with getting him through, including encouraging him on a shot Saturday when he was incredibly nervous, "I was gargling peanut butter," he joked. "Had it been any other pro, I'm not sure if I would have made it."
He said the most fun part was his four kids (Ryan, 5, Julia, 8, Ashley, 11, and Heather, 13) being able to watch.
"It's been an unbelievable couple days," he said. "I'll be back to work on Monday and I'm looking forward to it, but it's been quite the little diversion; 25,000 of my closest friends out there (Saturday)."
George Lopez is a crowd favorite. Lopez, who hosts his own talk show on TBS, played to the fans before teeing off at the first hole, giving a mock introduction of playing partner Fuzzy Zoeller. "Ladies and gentlemen, winner of the 1979 Masters Championship, from Windermere, Fla., Tiger Woods." The crowd both laughed and booed, after which Lopez cracked, "We've had enough of him."
Lucky No. 7
Keith Fergus has put himself into contention with back-to-back rounds of 68, and he has hole No. 7 largely to thank for it. Fergus has eagled the hole on both days, including making a 25-foot putt Friday afternoon. Saturday's putt was easier, a 6-footer, but Fergus will take it either way. "Seven has been real good," he said. "I got a good drive, good iron there about 6 feet (from the hole). Those two have been real nice for me."
Making a move
Fred Couples knew he'd need a great round Saturday to get back in the hunt, and he did well, shooting 4 under to climb within five shots of the lead. But Couples, who has won three straight Champions Tour events, has his work cut out for him. "I need a hot round," he said. "I've had a few of them this year."
It took 30 holes for Craig Stadler to get a birdie in this tournament. He did it on the 13th hole Saturday.
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.
Inspiration of the day
The fact actor and activist Michael J. Fox is playing is inspirational enough, considering he has Parkinson's disease. But his playing partner, pro Tim Simpson, said Fox also made an "awesome" chip shot on the ninth hole, "about 25 yards short of the green, he rolled it over the hole." "He's incredible," Simpson said. "It never ceases to amaze me he just chooses to be happy every day of his life."