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The 2004 Hot List

For passion, there's no one like NBC's Johnny Miller. For laughs, Gary McCord steals the scenery—when he's not bikini-waxing it—at CBS. And for a delivery as dry as a sandy waste area, Renton Laidlaw's your chap on the Golf Channel's airings of the European Tour.

Put them together and you only begin to approach the essence of Britain's gift to the booth, eight-time Ryder Cupper Peter Alliss. The BBC's cherubic mainstay jumps to the western side of the pond ten times a year to lend his avuncular presence to the Tour on ABC—O, fortunate colonies!—but it's when he guides us through the British Open in those one-hour inserts that we truly get a sly earful of Alliss in wonderland, such as:

On Duffy Waldorf's scorecard: "5-5-5-4-7. It's like the dialing code for Tierra del Fuego."

On the weather: "One good thing about rain in Scotland. Most of it ends up as scotch."

And in celebration of particularly titanic drives: "Have at thee, Sir Percy!" Then again, had Alliss not declined the Queen's offer of an Order of the British Empire last year, it might have been "Have at thee, Sir Peter!" instead.

"It's so efficient and uncomplicated that it works. It's so simple that I downplay it." That's how Stan Utley explains his technique for teaching the short game that's rapidly making him the go-to guy on Tour. His method?Teaching players to chip and putt on plane, thus "blending" the short strokes into the rest of their games. If anyone gets the short game, it's Utley; he holds the Tour mark of fewest putts for nine holes: six! Given the success he had with last year's star pupils Peter Jacobson and Jay Haas, the likes of Hal Sutton, John Cook and Joey Sindelar have joined his flock. The rest of us can bring our yips to him, too, at his base in Scottsdale (stanutleygolf.com).

Not regain the Ryder Cup?On American soil?On Hal Sutton's watch?Not likely. If Sutton can't root his charges to victory at Oakland Hills in September, he'll will them. Sutton is fiery—no tentative Curtis Strange, he—and the Sutton twelve should appreciate the captain's focus: fully on them. Any doubts about that were dispelled by his adamance that whatever tricks he might pull from his bag, none will include his own clubs. What he will pull out is a desire for victory and great golf. "Every time I've been in one of these things, I wanted . . . my opponent to perform at the highest level he could," Sutton says. "I just wanted to beat him." Clearly, this is one international event that won't end in a tie.

How easy will it be to crash Tiger's wedding?Well, when Curtis Strange asked him during an interview whether he'd be invited, Tiger palavered that it would depend if he'd be arriving as broadcaster or friend. Ouch. Given Tiger's guardedness, access to one of J.Lo's knot-tyings seems a gimme by comparison. Still, it's Tiger's postnuptial life that has the Tour a-titter. As Justin Leonard, speaking from his own experience, predicts, "Now that he's getting hitched, he'll want to play more." Just one of the many things he'll surely do to avoid the wrath of Elin's cooking.

Contributing writers: Kate Dolan, Jonathan Lesser, Anneliese Turck and Ty Wenger


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