Are You Putting With Me, Jesus?

If you’re placing your bets on the winner of the Byron Nelson Classic or the Colonial NIT. the two major Professional Golf Association events held around here in May, here’s a tip-pick a born-again Christian.

Why? Well, right now the hottest golfers on the PGA Tour are members of the weekly Bible Study group, an informal, nondenominational gathering of players and their families, staff, and sundry hangers-on. In 1987, Bible Study members captured fifteen of the forty-six regular tour events, including three of the four major championships.

“For mosl of the players, it is the only church they have, ” says Rocky Hambrie, the Dallas-based sports agent who represents several pro golfers. “They can’t go to church on Sunday morning because they are playing. Their Christian community is the fellowship on the tour. “

Still, the movement is not without controversy. Some observers fear that the evangelical emphasis of the born-agains turns off fens, sponsors, and the media. Some un-born-again players were known to have cringed when, for example, Open winner Scott Simpson told the assembled multitudes that it really didn’t matter whether he won the tournament because he was one with Jesus Christ.

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