When they talk about big hitters in women's golf, the name of Babe Zaharias always comes up, as does that of JoAnne Gunderson, known as the Great Gundy until she got married and became JoAnne Carner, but eventually it is agreed that Mickey Wright belongs at the top of the list.
No more. After watching Laura Davies, the big British belter, in the U.S. Women's Open, Frank Hannigan of the USGA told the New York Times: "Davies is the longest I've ever seen. On the two holes where we measured drives on Thursday and Friday, her average was 255 yards. The average for the rest of the field was 218 yards. So her average was nearly 40 yards farther than that of the field."
Said ABC commentator Judy Rankin: "It would appear that Laura is the longest hitter we've ever had. The longest I've ever seen was Mickey Wright, but I know Laura hits her irons quite a bit longer than Mickey ever did."
Carner, who faces Davies and Ayako Okamoto in today's playoff, has never played with Davies, but said: "I played in front of her in a practice round at the Dinah Shore. When she hit her drives, the earth shook."
Davies stands 5-10. Her weight is a secret, but some guess she's pushing 200. Carner doesn't expect to match her off the tees, but she won't be making any concessions.
"I'll be trying to dig my toenails in," she said.
Trivia Time: If 48-year-old JoAnne Carner wins the U.S. Women's Open today, will she be the oldest golfer ever to win a major championship? (Answer in second column.)
Wait a Minute: Said Kansas City's Bo Jackson, claiming too much emphasis is put on strikeouts: "You don't see people put that much emphasis on a dropped pass in football, a turnover in basketball, a missed putt in golf."
A national magazine recently reminded Jackie Smith of the Roger Staubach pass he dropped in the end zone against Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. Isiah Thomas won't soon forget that turnover in Boston Garden, and Sam Snead will forever be reminded of the three-putts that kept him from winning a U.S. Open.
Greg Norman, on his new property in North Palm Beach, Fla.: "It's about a drive and a 3-wood from where Jack Nicklaus lives . . . for him. But only a drive and a wedge for me."
Hall of Famer Jim Hunter told Joe Donnelly of Newsday that Charlie Finley insisted he have a nickname after signing him at the age of 18 off a North Carolina farm.
Hunter: "I told him I liked to hunt and fish, and he spelled out this scenario: 'When you were 6 years old, you ran away from home early in the morning. When your parents found you about 3 p.m., you had caught two catfish and were bringing in a third one.'
"And then Mr. Finley said, 'Now repeat it to me!' I was never to forget it, and I never did."
Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News, on rumors the 76ers are interested in Ralph Sampson: "I think Charles Barkley and Sampson would be about as compatible as Oliver North and Sen. Daniel Inouye. There is something inherently repugnant about the sight of a 6-foot-6 guy muscling inside for the tough rebounds while a 7-4 guy spends less time in the paint than Spud Webb."
Trivia Answer: No. Julius Boros also was 48 when he won the PGA Championship in 1968. Technically, he was older. He was born in March, Carner in April.
Jim Lampley of radio WFAN in New York, on Lawrence Taylor's new book: "I guess we can't call it the Giants' crack linebacking unit anymore, can we?"