Thu, Dec 28, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Byrum's bum knee might get him on the PGA Tour


Tom Byrum suffered the biggest heartache at the final stage of US PGA Tour qualifying when he finished bogey-bogey to miss his card by one stroke. But thanks to a bad knee, he still has one more chance.

Byrum is among 20 players who have been granted various levels of medical extensions for next year. He had knee surgery last summer, causing him to miss the final four months of the season. Byrum will get 17 starts to make US$559,804, which would give him the equivalent of No. 125 on the money list and allow him to finish out the year.

Byrum and Scott Hoch were among a dozen players who sought and were granted extensions through the major medical category. Others on that list and the number of starts they get include Chris Perry (18), Scott McCarron (13), J.L. Lewis (14), Kevin Na (21), Hank Kuehne (21) and Carl Paulson (15).

Hoch's request was peculiar because he is 51 and might not even play a full schedule. His exemption is a carryover from last year and Hoch can get as many as 27 starts if he wants them. He is also eligible for as many two more exemptions from career money.

"It would make it an advantage for me to play the regular tour for the sake of endorsements," Hoch said. "The deals I've got are a lot more if I played the regular tour."

He said Yonex did not renew his equipment deal -- Hoch had been with them since 1990 -- and he declined to say with whom he has signed because the contract was not final.

If he does play the US Tour, his first start might not be until after the Masters. He wants to try the Champions Tour first. He is no longer eligible for Doral, where he won in 2003, because it is now a World Golf Championship. And he fears the Bay Hill Invitational requires more power than he has.

Golf's Yogi Berra

Fred Couples has delivered some of the most perplexing lines in golf, such as ``I'm a lot older than I was 10 years ago,'' and ``I'm playing as well as I've ever played, except for the years I played better.''

Even though he is in the twilight of his career, golf's version of Yogi Berra hasn't lost his touch. Consider this comment from the Target World Challenge when asked about his career back problems, then try to figure out what he means.

``I wouldn't be playing great golf every week if my back didn't hurt,'' he said. ``I wouldn't be able to play golf if my back really, really hurt, and I don't. So therefore, I try to play.''

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