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Weekend Digest

GOLF : Queen of Aces Slowed by Run of Dry Luck

July 24, 1987|Weekend Digest was compiled by Steve Elling

By her own admission, Donna Duke is in a slump.

For most golfers, going a few months without a hole-in-one would be no big deal, since most links addicts go a lifetime without one. But for Duke to go five months without an ace, that's some kind of skid.

"I'm at 22 and holding," Duke, 57, said with a laugh. "I've had a few close calls, but nothing's gone in lately."

Consider that in a three-year span, Duke recorded 22 holes-in-one, including a remarkable 14 during a 12-month stretch in 1985-86.

Duke's last ace came Feb. 23 on the ninth hole at Rio Hondo Country Club. She aced the 150-yard, par-3 hole with a 4 wood. As far as 1s on the scorecard go, however, Duke's been in a drought ever since. But then, she played the game for 14 years without recording her first ace, so maybe the odds are getting even.

"I had a real close call in Westlake about a month ago," said Duke, who lives in Camarillo. "It missed by about eight inches. I hit one to within about 10-12 inches a while back, but I haven't made anything. It's just one of those things."

While aces have been elusive for Duke, she has lowered her handicap from 15 to 10. The putts are falling, but the tee shots aren't.

"I'd be the first to admit that I can't explain why it happens, or even why it doesn't," she said. "I've been very, very fortunate."

Duke, however, hasn't had much luck in getting the 14 aces recognized as a record by Golf Digest magazine. The publication refused to certify all of the feats, despite written verification supplied by eyewitnesses. The magazine recognizes the record for aces as 11 in a 12-month span. Lois Haynes, an editor at the magazine, said Duke's aces weren't recognized because some of the witnesses never actually saw the ball roll into the hole.

Just a mention of the snub raises Duke's dander.

"I haven't spoken to that woman since," Duke said. "I know I did it; my friends know I did it. That's all that really matters. It's strange--they send a certificate every time I get a hole-in-one, but they won't certify the overall record."

Red tape won't stop Duke from gunning for the green.

"I'll just keep aiming for the flag," she said. "There's nothing wrong with a birdie."

In the same league: Jon McGovern of Crespi High has played against Heidi Voorhees, the 14-year-old Notre Dame High freshman, in Del Rey League competition. He, too, is capable of knocking off an opponent or two from his age bracket. Or any age, for that matter.

McGovern, a senior, won the Greater Long Beach golf tournament last week at the Long Beach Naval Golf Club, shooting a 2-under-par 70.

McGovern, who has been the No. 1 player for the Celts since he was a freshman, is also the team captain.

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