Quite a quartet

Furyk, Howell, Goosen and Harrington excel at the Exelon.

Posted: June 05, 2007

It was one of those moments of clarity, or stark reality, when the difference between us and them suddenly comes into focus.

The us, in this case, are ordinary recreational golfers, even quite good golfers. The them are PGA Tour members. The moment in question came at yesterday's ninth Exelon Invitational at the ACE Club in Lafayette Hill, at the fifth hole.

The fifth at the ACE Club is 385 yards from the back tees, and every inch of it is downhill, eventually leading to an enormous green, with a necklace of four ominous bunkers standing guard.

For us, the green and those bunkers are out of reach. So, just to vex us, designer Gary Player also plopped a big, yawning bunker smack-dab in the middle of the fairway. The smart play, of course, is to steer right or left of that fairway bunker off the tee, leaving a nice, short iron shot into the green.

Yesterday, one by one, Charles Howell III, Retief Goosen, Padraig Harrington and Exelon host Jim Furyk stepped to the tee at the fifth, sniffed in the face of the sandy danger, and launched the kind of bombed tee shots that make a loud coink sound coming off the face of a grapefruit-size titanium driver.

"Oooh," the crowd surrounding the tee gasped in awe, each time one of the foursome clobbered the ball.

While Furyk, Howell and Goosen all found green-side bunkers with their tee balls, Harrington actually hit the green. He smiled but didn't seem too impressed with himself.

It turned out to be a good day for the Irishman. He and Goosen, a South African, prevailed by 2-up in their Ryder Cup-style four-ball match against Americans Howell and Furyk.

Although no official scores were kept, Furyk estimated that Harrington, who was as hot as a firecracker, and Goosen were 10 under par by the time they closed out the match on the 17th.

For their trouble, Harrington and Goosen won $80,000 each, while the losers pocketed $60,000 apiece.

Exelon officials estimated the crowd at 9,200. They also said the event raised $250,000 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, topping last year's record of $200,000.

Harrington and Goosen sped off to Memphis for this week's PGA Tour stop, the Stanford St. Jude's Championship.

Furyk and Howell were headed to their homes to prepare for next week's U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh.

Contact staff writer Joe Logan

at 215-854-5604 or jlogan@phillynews.com.

Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/joelogan.

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