The vote's in, and GOP clearly rules on PGA Tour

ORLANDO, Fla. -- They are as rare on the PGA Tour as X-out golf balls.

They are as frowned upon as two-star hotels.

They are to be avoided like the B.C. Open.

You'd have better luck finding Tiger Woods honeymooning at the Best Western in Toledo than you would have finding a registered Democrat on the PGA Tour.

"I'm not sure," said David Duval, "but I think I might be the only registered Democrat on Tour."


Actually, we were able to find two golfers -- Duval and Billy Andrade -- who were brave enough Thursday at the Funai Classic to admit being deserted donkeys in a sport filled with stampeding elephants.

You want to know how Republican the PGA Tour is? Golf Digest polled 34 golfers recently and 100 percent of them said they were voting for Bush. Asked about the rampant Republicanism among his colleagues, Duval just shrugged and snickered.

"Well," he said, "we can't all be correct-thinking individuals."

Andrade points out that pro golfers are simply voting with their wallets, not necessarily their hearts. He recites a quote from singer/songwriter Glenn Frey to illustrate his point.

"You only become conservative," Andrade said, "when you have something to conserve."

The vast majority of the PGA Tour is so pro-Bush, they were reportedly chauffeured to Disney Thursday by the Swift Boat Captains Against Kerry. And I'm not accusing PGA golfers of being radical right-wingers, but word is they are pressuring Disney officials to evict Eeyore, the democratic donkey, from the Hundred Acre Woods. And allegedly they want to kick the French out of "It's a Small World" and impeach Jimmy Carter from "The Hall of Presidents."

OK, so the rampant Republicanism on the PGA Tour isn't quite that over-the-top, but it's close. True story: A few years ago, many members of the American Ryder Cup team nearly boycotted a trip to the White House because they were livid over President Clinton's stance on a higher marginal tax rate. In fact, the late Payne Stewart even told the media that fellow Ryder Cup member Paul Azinger, the son of a Vietnam veteran, didn't want to go to the White House and "shake the hand of a draft dodger."

How's a poor Democrat supposed to survive out here among the moneyed masses? Many pro athletes, because of their newly acquired wealth, convert into Republicans, but golfers are different: They have had the GOP (Golf's Only Party) doctrine drilled into them since birth. Let's face it, most of them grew up behind the gilded gates of the local country club.


Duval was one of those life-long Republicans until a couple of years ago when he re-registered and became a Democrat.

"I just feel real frustrated with what's going on," Duval said. "Beyond Iraq and whether you think that was the right thing to do, my concerns are more within our own borders. My stances on health care, the environment and stem-cell research are much more reflected by the Democratic party."

If you're a Republican, you probably don't want to hear what Duval has to say. And if you're Democrat, you probably don't want to hear what Azinger has to say. But you'll definitely want to hear what Dudley Hart has to say.

"I think all of them (Republicans and Democrats) are full of garbage," Hart said Thursday. "I think about 1 percent of what any of them say is believable."

Not too far right.

Not too far left.

Dudley, my man, you just smoked that one right down the middle.

Mike Bianchi writes for the Orlando Sentinel. His column is distributed by Knight Ridder Newspapers.

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