It has taken awhile, but Mark McGwire seems to be getting close to choosing another career -- traveling golfer.

McGwire, 40, who retired from the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001, can launch a golf ball more than 300 yards, and he has had his club head speed measured at more than 140 mph; most PGA Tour players are in the 115-125 mph range.

McGwire has entered the American Century Championship, a celebrity tournament, July 16-18 at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Club in Nevada, and he has also signed up to play in the California State Championship, Sept. 1-4.

McGwire, a member at Shady Canyon Golf Club in Irvine, Calif., is the defending champion in the ADT Golf Skills, which will be played in November at Trump International at Palm Beach, Fla.

Last year, McGwire defeated Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Paul Azinger, Colin Montgomerie and Rich Beem.

The European Front

Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson entered as the top players this week at the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, where Darren Clarke and a resurgent Lee Westwood are also in the field.

Westwood, who tied for second last week at the European Open, said he is hitting the ball as well as ever, which would mean as well as he did four years ago when he was the top player in Europe.

At least he's coming back. Westwood, ranked 67th, began 2003 ranked 181st.

The tour is at the John Deere Classic, which began Thursday with Vijay Singh trying to defend the title he won when the event was held in September. Because it moved to the week before the British Open, the field is not as strong as usual, with Stewart Cink and Nick Price as two of the biggest names on hand.

Not Cashing In

Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press reported that 14-year-old Michelle Wie and 17-year-old Paula Creamer would have some serious tax issues if they were pros instead of amateurs. In four LPGA events, Wie could have won $191,526, and Creamer could have made $190,236.

Take that to the mall. . . .

It's been six years since Justin Rose, then 17, tied for fourth at the British Open at Royal Birkdale. Rose, who was viewed as the natural successor to Faldo as England's top golfer, had one final chance to get into the field for next week's British Open at Royal Troon but missed the cut at the Scottish Open.

Rose, ranked 57th, failed twice in qualifying at Sunningdale and when he missed the cut at the European Open. . . .

Stephen Ames, who won the Western Open last weekend, started the year ranked 98th and is 17th now.

Ames is also sixth on the money list with $2.749 million -- already more than double his best previous year. . . .

Annika Sorenstam, who was second in the 2002 U.S. Women's Open, missed a playoff at last year's Open and was second in the Open to Meg Mallon over the weekend despite closing with consecutive birdies and a 67.

Mallon shot a 65, the lowest closing round by a winner in the 59-year-history of the Open, and beat Sorenstam by two shots.

"I really thought it was my turn," Sorenstam said.

Even if it wasn't, Sorenstam has a tight grip on the LPGA, which she leads in earnings, rounds under par, greens in regulation, scoring, top 10s and victories.