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These Days, Wadkins Is an Easy Rider


So when was the precise moment Lanny Wadkins felt the curse lift?

It was as soon as the Ryder Cup was over.

Here are the facts: For the last two years, Wadkins served as Ryder Cup captain. For the last two years, he played the worst golf of his life.

He played 45 events in 1994 and 1995 and made 17 cuts. The only top-10 finish he had in two years was a seventh at last year's Nissan Open.

But after rounds of 69-70-69 this week, Wadkins is only two shots behind leader Neal Lancaster. It's a position Wadkins hasn't been in for a while.

Wadkins said he has learned one fact about life without the Ryder Cup.

"It's been nice and quiet," he said.

"Listen, I loved every minute of being captain. It was a great honor. But I'm glad to be back playing. I'm not that old that I can't play some."

Wadkins, 46, finished 185th and 162nd on the money list the last two years, but was able to keep his exempt status under the life member category. It's available to players who have been on the PGA Tour 15 years and have won 20 events. Tom Wadkins also has the life member exemption this year.

Wadkins can keep the same exempt status in 1997 if he stays within three strokes of the field average this year.

In four events so far, Wadkins has missed three cuts and tied for 47th last week at Hawaii.

Since he turned pro in 1971, he has won 21 times, but not since the Greater Hartford Open in 1992. His record at Riviera is a good one--he won the Los Angeles Open in 1979 and 1985 (with a record 20-under total) and finished second in 1977 and 1983.

He wouldn't mind something similar today.

"I hope these boys will respect their elders," Wadkins said.


Peggy Nelson, Byron Nelson's wife, not only stays busy keeping her husband on his itinerary, she also is a public speaker.

Last week, she delivered a speech to the Women for Abilene Christian University. Its title was "Life With The Legend."

Said Mrs. Nelson: "It's one subject I know very well."


How tough was Riviera on Saturday?

Of 75 players left after the cut, 47 shot over par and only 28 were at par or better--of which 16 were below par. The average score was 72.04.


From Sean McDonough of CBS-TV on the recent birth of twins to Kirk and Cathi Triplett: "That means they're twins as well as Tripletts."

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