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It don't mean a thing until you make that swing

How unsettling it must be to stand on the 17th tee at Quail Hollow Club, trying to guess which way the wind will blow and where your golf ball will wind up on a hole that deserves a really nasty nickname.

You're playing for big money and fame and all that in the Quail Hollow Championship and there's water to the left and water to the front and a sloping green and no good place to bail out. Sharks are circling, buzzards are hovering.

Those purple pants you're wearing can't help you. Neither can the big belt buckle. It doesn't matter how tall you are or how much you weigh. You're young or you're nearing the age when you can play seniors golf, doesn't matter. You're good looking or you look like a mug shot after a bad night. So what?

You're the one with the club in your hand. Sooner or later, you have to pull the trigger.

Pro golf is an equal opportunity employer.

That is driven home every day, but Saturday's third round felt like a chart to illustrate it.

Billy Mayfair is 46 and won't be posing for the cover of a physical fitness magazine, but he's leading the tournament heading into the final round today. Not far behind him is Phil Mickelson, a gallery sweetheart who wears tight-fitting shirts with short sleeves that emphasize his muscles. He's right-handed but plays golf left-handed. Doesn't matter how you're built or which side you play from. The ball doesn't know, doesn't care.

Davis Love III is 46 and has been playing the pro tour for more than 24 years. Rory McIlroy will turn 21 next Tuesday and is in his first year on the PGA Tour. Let's see, how'd they do on that rude 17th hole? Both birdied it.

Anthony Kim was 4 under for the day, 7 under for the tournament, in third place and then he double-bogeyed the 16th, knocking bark off of four or five trees, demonstrating for anyone who wondered that his huge trademark belt buckles don't help except maybe with meeting girls.

The magazines and commercials tell us how to make those beautiful swings. Jim Furyk isn't listening. His swing wouldn't be one you'd frame and hang in an art gallery, but note that he is 5 under for the week and very much in the hunt. It ain't how, it's how many.

Putters? You could write a book, but don't bother. It's been done way too many times. Still you see all kinds out there, long putters, belly putters, standard putters, putters that look like engine parts, plumbing and potato mashers, players using a crosshanded method or a split grip, whatever works. One question -- did the ball go in the hole?

Look at the scoreboard. You'll find the answer there. And there are no footnotes, just numbers.

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