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Forsman Leaves His Worries Behind : San Diego Open: He shoots par 72 on final day to earn his first PGA Tour victory in four years.

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, and 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 worried about almost everything--the weather, the national television 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 cool, windy and rainy day when 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 needed it the most. 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 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. "Oh, no, not the list.

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

He started this year with a tie for fourth at Tucson but then slumped. 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 little results.

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

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."

But this was a rainy day 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. Forsman does not consider himself a strong bad-weather player. At 6-feet-4, 195 pounds, Forsman is better known as the winner of the tour's 1987 long-driving competition than 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 an eagle on the par-five, 499-yard 18th hole that might apply pressure.

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 over until Forsman reached the green and realized even a three-putt bogey would still give him the tournament, he finally was able to find 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."

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, Ricky, 5, 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 was over.

Golf Notes

Jodie Mudd had a hole-in-one on the 210-yard, 11th hole using a three-iron. He shot a 71 and finished in a tie for 37th at two-under 286 . . . Jeff Wilson, a 26-year-old rookie from Vallejo, had the low round with a six-under 66 and finished in tie for 19th at 283 . . . Mark Brooks, who shot a record 61 on the North Course Friday, found life on the South Course more difficult, shooting a pair of 75s and final 72 to finish at 286. . . . Rick Fehr, who shared the first-round lead with Bob Eastwood at 65, shot 71, 74, 75 on his final three rounds on the South Course and finished in a tie for 28th at 285 . . .John Huston, who shot the high round of the tournament with an 83 Saturday, came back to shoot a 68 Sunday.

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