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Wilma's wind wild but no match for Lightning
By BOB HARIG
Published October 25, 2005
PALM HARBOR - They have taken shots to the ribs, cuts to the face. What's a little wind?
For the Tampa Bay Lightning players, using a different set of sticks to kick off the Chrysler Championship, it was not exactly a leisurely stroll on the Copperhead course Monday at the Westin Innisbrook Resort.
It seemed more like the British Open as strong wind gusts from Hurricane Wilma greeted participants in the Lightning Foundation Pro-Am, which put a team representative and PGA Tour pro in each group of three amateurs.
Although several players passed along their regrets, the outing still attracted Tim Taylor , Dan Boyle , Vinny Prospal , Dave Andreychuk and Ruslan Fedotenko . But it was a team led by Lightning announcer Bobby Taylor that won with 11-under 60.
Taylor was joined by PGA Tour pro Mark Brooks and amateurs Gary Bolohan , Marco Ferrin and Joe Wessel .
HAAS OPTS FOR SENIORS: Jay Haas committed to the Chrysler Championship. He also committed to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup on the Champions Tour, which is this week in Sonoma, Calif. Haas, who won his second Champions Tour title in three weeks Sunday, opted for the senior event, which is for the top 30 money-winners.
That suggests that Haas, 51, who played on the 2004 U.S. Ryder Cup team and played virtually no senior golf, will compete more on the 50-and-older circuit next year.
"I just feel like I'm going to shoot a good number when I'm out here," he said Sunday after his victory in San Antonio, Texas.
Here's another clue: Haas, despite playing 16 events on the PGA Tour, is just 144th on the money list with $485,109, meaning he will lose his fully exempt status.
FEELING LUCKY: Much of the tournament infrastructure was set up last week and would not have withstood higher winds than those experienced on Monday. "It was a bit of a gamble," tournament director Gerald Goodman said. "We were blessed. We feel for the people who were in the path of the storm, but we came out quite well." Other than debris from trees, the course, which registered less than an inch of rain, is in good shape for the tournament that begins Thursday.
COMING AND GOING: Mark Wilson got a spot in the field because he tied for 10th Sunday in the Funai Classic at Walt Disney World. With the withdrawal of Haas, Dean Wilson got into the field, and Charles Warren replaced Doug Barron ,who got in when Kirk Triplett withdrew. D.J. Trahan is now the first alternate, with Tampa's Ryuji Imada the second alternate.