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1997 NISSAN OPEN / RIVIERA COUNTRY CLUB | NOTES

With His Kind of Record, Faldo Is an Easy Ryder

March 03, 1997|SHAV GLICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Now that Nick Faldo is a card-carrying member of the American golf tour, he no longer plays in enough European tournaments to earn his way onto the Ryder Cup team, which means his only option is to be a captain's choice.

After winning the Nissan Open at Riviera on Sunday, Faldo had a word of advice for European captain Seve Ballesteros.

"If I was the captain of the Ryder Cup team and Seve won the Los Angeles Open at Riviera, he'd be on my team," Faldo said.

Faldo has been on the team 10 times and a year and a half ago was instrumental in helping the Europeans beat the United States, 14 1/2-13 1/2. On the final day, he defeated Curtis Strange to help his side overcome a two-point deficit.

Ballesteros has two captain's choices for the 12-man team. The Ryder Cup will be played Sept. 26-28 at the Valderrama Golf Club in Cadiz, Spain.

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Making the Ryder Cup team was on Craig Stadler's mind too. The defending champion, who won with a six-under-par total last year, collected $151,000 for finishing second at nine under, but he seemed just as pleased that "I got some more Ryder Cup points today. I like that."

He has not been a member of the team since 1985 and was not in the top 25 in the Ryder Cup standings before Sunday.

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Next year the Nissan Open will be played at Valencia Country Club in Canyon Country because the U.S. Senior Open will be played at Riviera and members do not want to give up the course twice in the same year.

The tournament will return to Riviera in 1999.

Stadler played in a U.S. Open qualifying round at Valencia in 1974 as an amateur. He said all he could remember about it was that it "had a monster of a par three over the water. I mean really a monster."

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Officials of GolfWatch, the founders of the $1,500 Diamond Lane for golf fans, were pleased with the results of their first venture.

"From an operational standpoint, our scorecard was very respectable," said executive vice president Larry Thiel. "We've been monitoring every day and we never had any glitches. That says a lot for our people."

It will be used at three more tournaments this year.

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Sunday's crowd of 42,824 raised the four-day attendance to 129,136, more than 34,000 ahead of last year's 94,831, which had rain on Sunday and no Tiger Woods. L.A. Junior Chamber of Commerce officials estimated before this year's tournament that Woods' appearance would be worth 30,000 fans. . . . Omar Uresti's final-round 68 earned him the highest finish of his pro career, a tie for sixth. His best previous finish in three years on tour was a seventh-place tie. The $46,900 was also his best payoff. In five previous tournaments this year, the University of Texas graduate missed the cut three times and had earnings of only $11,963. . . . Robin Freeman, who shared sixth place with Uresti, is baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner's son-in-law.

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