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Forsman Frets Way to Victory : Golf: In the wind and rain, a final-round 72 was good enough for a two-shot victory at Torrey Pines.

February 19, 1990|CURT HOLBREICH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — A round of golf, with its idle time between shots, gives a player plenty of time to think. Maybe too much time. At least that's the way it seems for Dan Forsman.

Forsman uses every spare moment on the course, but not always to his advantage. He worries, he wanders, he fidgets, he frets.

The results sometimes show unfavorably in his score. So with the title of the $900,000 Shearson Lehman Hutton Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course resting in his control Sunday, Forsman had plenty to think about.

He said he worried about the weather, the national televison coverage, the distraction of spectators and a slow-play warning after the 13th hole.

But this time, Forsman was able to put enough of his thoughts aside to walk away with his first tour title in four years and the $162,000 first prize.

On a cool, windy and rainy day on which none of his closest challengers could sustain a charge, Forsman was able to patiently shoot a par 72 on the South Course for a four-round total of 13-under 275 and a two-stroke victory over Tommy Armour III.

The victory came when Forsman most needed it. His worrying had reached a peak over the past year. He finished 99th on the 1989 money list with $141,174, his lowest placing since 1984, his second on the tour.

His drop in play meant a loss of some of the perks, such as a courtesy car, that go to the better tour players. At 31, with seven years on the tour, it was a shock to lose those extras.

"I would ask about a courtesy car, and they would ask where I was on the (money) list," Forsman said. As soon as they asked, Forsman would think, "Oh, no, not the list."

"People would see me going out to the driving range, and they would look the other way," he said. "They'd think, 'There he is hitting balls again. Maybe he should take up tennis.' "

This year began smartly for Forsman with a tie for fourth at Tucson, but then the bottom fell out. He tied for 71st at the Bob Hope tournament, was 82nd at Phoenix after a final-round 84 and withdrew two weeks ago in the third round at Pebble Beach.

Forsman said he found himself practicing more and more with less and less to show for it.

"I've worn the groves off a couple sets of irons the past couple years trying to improve my game," Forsman said. "Someone asked me, 'Do you have V-groves or U-groves?' I have no groves."

So wound up was Forsman, his worrying began early Sunday morning.

"It was an emotional day for me," Forsman said. "I woke up at 5 a.m. and my wife, Trudy, was staring at the ceiling like I was.

"I didn't sleep very well and I couldn't eat much. I took a bowl of cereal, a small portion, but I could barely eat that."

But this was a rainy day which almost everyone would find trying. Of the five players who stared the round within five shots of Forsman, none gained a stroke on him Sunday, and one of them, halfway-leader Bob Eastwood, who started three strokes behind, shot himself out of contention with his second consecutive 76 to finish in a tie for 14th at 282.

The rain, which had held off for much the day except for a brief early shower and an occasional drizzle, began to pour as Forsman stood over his first putt on the 17th green. The always worrisome Forsman began to wonder what else could go wrong. He does not consider himself a strong bad-weather player. At 6-feet-4, 195 pounds, he is better known for winning the tour's 1987 long-driving competition than he is for his finesse.

But this time the weather would turn out to be his friend. Forsman was able to two-putt for a par to keep his three-stroke lead, and the downpour eliminated any chance Armour had of scoring the eagle on the par-five, 499-yard 18th hole that might have put some pressure on Forsman.

Armour found his ball after his drive on the 18th splattered with mud, preventing him from taking a chance at the green with his second shot.

"The tournament was over when I walked up and saw that mud on my ball," Armour said.

But it was not until Forsman reached the green and realized that even a three-putt bogey would give him the tournament was he finally able to enjoy a moment without care or worry.

"At that point it finally sunk in," Forsman said. "I was stunned. I kind of looked around, I sort of gave out a sigh of relief. There was a sort of emptiness there because all that pressure was over. There were no more holes. This was it. I had won one. Peace, tranquility, happiness."

Armour did sink his 23-foot putt for a birdie and a final-round 72, but all that could do was break a second-place tie with Tom Byrum, who shot a 68 to finish at 278. Armour won $97,200 for his 277 total, Byrum $61,200 for third.

All that was left for Forsman was to drop in a two-foot putt for par and the tournament title.

He hugged his caddie, Greg Martin, and turned to see his youngest son, five-year-old Ricky, running toward him. He scooped his son up in his arms and lifted him high above his head. The wait for his third tour title--and first since 1986 at the Bay Hill tournament in Orlando, Fla.--was over.

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