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LIFE OF LUXURY: Those who competed in last weekend's 84 Lumber Classic and were eligible for this week's American Express Championship in Ireland could take advantage of a perk that was eye-opening even to multimillionaire golfers. In order to entice players, the 84 Lumber Classic chartered a specially-configured plane with all first-class seating and full catering for the round trip to Ireland. Players could bring their spouse, caddie and children, or _ if the children didn't come _ they could invite three guests. The value was estimated at $40,000 a player. The perk helped explain how a tournament that had just one of the top 21 money winners in 2003 attracted 19 of the top 30 this year.

CADDIES REJOICE: Hal Sutton might have flopped as the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, but the caddies who worked the event will forever be grateful to him. Caddies typically do not have the welcome mat rolled out for them at tournaments. Over the years, they have had to fight for parking, among other things. But at the Ryder Cup, Sutton made sure they were taken care of. Not only were they allowed into the American team room _ a first _ they were given Cadillacs to drive for the week. They also got first-class airfare to Detroit.


Anna Acker-Macosko had two cracks at matching the LPGA Tour scoring record, missing birdie putts Sunday at the 17th and 18th holes at the Longs Drugs Challenge. Had either putt dropped, Acker-Macosko would have matched Annika Sorenstam's record score of 59. As it was, Acker-Macosko's 60 was the lowest score ever on a par-71 course. Jung Yeon Lee also recorded a 60 this year. "I said to myself, "Just enjoy it; this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,' " Acker-Macosko said. "I was thinking about 59. That kept me on track. That's the closest I'll come to tying one of Annika's records." Acker-Macosko, 35, played college golf at USF.


"It's a run I hope never ends. I'm enjoying it very much and I feel like every time I enter a tournament, I should win it."

_ VIJAY SINGH, after winning for the third straight time and eighth time overall at the 84 Lumber Classic


In his past six events, Singh has earned $4.452-million. That total would be good for fourth on the PGA Tour money list.

_ BOB HARIG, Times staff writer