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Golf : Looking Ahead: Kite and Stewart Will be Among the Winners in 1987

January 04, 1987|Randy Harvey

Jack Nicklaus won his 20th major tournament with a stirring victory at the Masters. Greg Norman became the first golfer to win more than $1 million in a year.

Bob Tway won the PGA tournament with a shot for the ages. Pat Bradley won almost a half million, becoming the first woman to surpass $2 million in career earnings.

In their first full year among the seniors, Bruce Crampton and Chi Chi Rodriguez won more than they ever did on the regular tour. Mac O'Grady lived to fight another day.

But that was 1986.

Anyone can tell you what happened then.

Here's what will happen this year:

Players under 40 will win all of the major tournaments.

Tom Kite will win the Masters. Nicklaus was the people's choice last year in Augusta, but one couldn't help but feel sorry for Kite when he barely missed his putt on 18 that would have put him in a playoff. Kite, who has had more top-10 finishes in recent Masters than anyone else, is the best player on the tour not to have won a major tournament.

Payne Stewart will win a tournament.

Laura Baugh won't.

Despite claims from some that Bob Tway will disappear into the middle of the pack this year, he will be near the top again. He's one of the most dedicated players on the tour, the type of player who takes a week off from the tour, goes home to Oklahoma and plays more golf.

Bobby Clampett will make a comeback.

Sorry, wishful thinking.

Nancy Lopez will make a comeback. In fact, she already has. After giving birth in May to her second child, daughter Erinn, Lopez returned for the last four tournaments of 1986 and won $67,000. She needs only one victory to earn a place in the LPGA Hall of Fame. Lopez will need a big year because her husband, baseball free agent Ray Knight, is likely to take a pay cut, even though he was the World Series MVP.

The PGA's Tournament Policy Board will take a strong stand against players participating in the Million Dollar Golf Challenge in South Africa. Among those competing last year were Lanny Wadkins, Bernhard Langer, David Graham and T.C. Chen. Lee Trevino and Andy Bean competed in 1985 but didn't return last year because of anti-apartheid pressure. Wadkins said he received no such pressure last year. The PGA will apply the pressure this year.

Sorry, wishful thinking.

Mike Hulbert's bank account will continue to grow but not by the same percentage it did last year. He won $276,687 in 1986, more than 15 times his earnings of the year before. If he improves at the same rate this year, he will win $4,150,305.

Jan Stephenson will catch a cold.

Deane Beman will not win any tournaments if he resumes his comeback, but he will continue to be recognized as a commissioner who has advanced his sport. Of the current professional commissioners, Beman is rivaled only by David Stern of the National Basketball Assn.

Fuzzy Zoeller will win the Skins Game for the third straight year. More people will then begin to realize that the format, a master stroke the first couple of years, has become harmful to the game. It should be showcasing the current stars, such as Norman and Seve Ballesteros. Of course, that might mean fewer viewers and less profit.

Tom Watson will win a tournament.

Ballesteros won't, at least not in the United States.

China, which has fallen hard for golf, will begin its own professional tour, enabling Norman to become the leading money winner on four continents.

The first PGA tournament of 1987, the MONY Tournament of Champions, will begin Wednesday at La Costa, which has had a major face lift. The tournament, billed as the most exclusive in the world, is open only to players who won an official PGA Tour event in 1986.

Besides defending champion Calvin Peete, the field will include the winners of all four major tournaments--Nicklaus, Norman, Tway and Raymond Floyd.

The tournament will end Saturday so it won't be buried in the television ratings by the NFL conference championship games next Sunday.

The LPGA will open its 1987 season with the Mazda tournament Jan. 29-Feb. 1 at Stonebridge in Boca Raton, Fla.

Last week's auction at Pebble Beach of the ball Norman used the day he went over $1 million in earnings for 1986 raised $5,000 for the Nancy Reagan Drug Abuse Fund.

The winning bid of $2,000 was submitted by Howard Kaskel, a New York real estate executive who owns the Doral Hotel chain. He also won a chance to play a round with Norman.

Among the losing bidders was Reggie Jackson.

Golf Notes

Two members of UCLA's golf team, Robert Sullivan and Brandt Jobe, will play in the L.A. Open at Riviera Feb. 16-22, having won the berths at Hillcrest Country Club in an amateur qualifying tournament. Sullivan shot a 69, Jobe a 70. They also are roommates. . . . The amateur qualifying tournament for the Shearson Lehman Brothers Andy Williams Open Feb. 10-15 at Torrey Pines South in San Diego was won by Dave Sheff of San Marino and Bob May of La Habra.

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