Shortly after making a 10-foot putt to save par and win last year's Greater Baltimore Classic at Hayfields Country Club, J.C. Snead got into his car and drove home to his farm in Hot Springs, Va. Unlike many of his fellow pros, Snead had no plans to stay in Baltimore for the U.S. Senior Open.
"I was waffling before, and by winning the tournament, that sort of helped me make up my mind," said Snead, who has returned to Hayfields to defend his turf, if not his tournament, for the newly created $1.5 million Constellation Energy Classic, beginning tomorrow.
Instead of spending the week after Hayfields last summer making birdies and bogeys at nearby Caves Valley Golf Club, Snead spent time landscaping his property and baling enough hay to feed the 50 head of cattle that he raises on the farm.
Because of a dry summer, Snead said they had barely enough to make it through the winter. But last winter's snow and the subsequent rain throughout the spring and summer has made it a banner year for haymaking and his cattle should be well-fed.
"We have 500 bales [about double last year]," Snead said. "The only problem is that it's been so wet and muddy, we couldn't even get the tractor in there because it would get stuck."
That is sort of the state of Snead's game. His win at Hayfields was his first since the 1995 Ford Senior Players Championship, but the injuries that have slowed him down in recent years are starting to creep up again. He has been hampered by a painful right knee in recent weeks.
"I have not played well all year," said Snead, who is coming off a respectable tie for 19th last week at the Kroger Classic and is currently 64th on the money list. "It's been a weird year. I keep practicing, tinkering with my swing. I have no excuses. I don't know what's been going on."
No to Stephenson
According to Constellation Energy Group CEO Mayo Shattuck III, representatives of former LPGA star Jan Stephenson contacted tournament officials about having her play in this year's event, but the two sponsor's exemptions went to former champion Christy O'Connor Jr. and Sam Torrance.
Shattuck said yesterday that after Stephenson's agent called Peter Jacobsen, whose management company runs the Constellation Energy Classic, he went to the LPGA's Web site to check out Stephenson's recent performances, particularly her driving stats.
"When I discovered that her average driving distance was only 235 yards, I thought that not only was she not competitive on her own tour, but this is such a longer layout," Shattuck said. "My recollection is that Annika [Sorenstam] picked Colonial partly because its length was to her liking."
Shattuck won't rule out the possibility of inviting a woman in the future, and mentioned Beth Daniel as a potential candidate once she turns 50. Stephenson has accepted an invitation to play in a Champions Tour event later this year in Hawaii.
"I like the concept for its promotional value for golf, but at the same time, I am one of these guys who grew up with the rules of golf, the traditions of golf and I respect everything it represents," Shattuck said. "There's a point where if you do something for its commercial value, you tarnish the traditions."
There will be a moment of silence observed during today's pro-am to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Play will be halted at 8:45 a.m., the time the first World Trade Center tower was hit. All fans also will be given a red, white and blue ribbon to wear in honor of Sept. 11, 2001.
The tournament also will offer free admission during today's pro-am and for all three regular rounds to all military, fire and police personnel, as well as emergency service technicians with proper and valid identification.