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Sports Weekend | GOLF

Recapping Some Olympic Moments

June 26, 1998|THOMAS BONK

Now that all the golf balls have been located at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, the last bit of rough has coughed up players who lost their way, the greens have returned to their previous roles as simple putting surfaces and playing on them is no longer like putting on sheets of plywood, let's check the scoreboard from the U.S. Open.

WINNERS

1) Lee Janzen. Who else? The only player in the field to shoot par, he won Sunday when the ball he hit into a cypress tree and got stuck there eventually fell out and he managed par instead of double bogey. Good emotional response: Cried when he won . . . would not have cried if he hadn't.

2) Nick Price. After missing eight cuts this year and seven of his last 10, he finished fourth. His 14 PGA Tour victories in the 1990s are the most of anybody and now he looks as though he could win more.

3) Matt Kuchar. He's an amateur, which means he could have pocketed about $60,000 for finishing tied for 14th if he had turned pro. His showy dad, Peter, is probably kicking himself. Next to 18-year-old Spanish sensation Sergio Garcia, he's probably the most sought-after guy on the list of the product guys and the management firms.

4) Justin Leonard. Played two days in the same group as Kuchar, with Peter Kuchar carrying his son's bag . . . waving arms, pointing, walking in putting lines, yet Leonard resisted conking Caddie Dad with a wedge. Patience will be rewarded, possibly at the British Open.

5) Casey Martin. As anyone who has seen him before already knows, this guy can play. For how long, we don't know, but he tied for 23rd and showed class and courage.

LOSERS

1) Payne Stewart. Sorry, but what makes anyone think Stewart should be any better off than Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson, who all lost in U.S. Opens at Olympic. Besides, they all dressed better.

2) Jeff Maggert. This is getting redundant. Two under through two rounds and nine over the last two rounds. Got his usual Sunday round out of the way Saturday with a 75.

3) Colin Montgomerie. Tied for 18th. Eleven over until his 69 on Sunday when there was no pressure.

4) Paul Simson. The 47-year-old North Carolina insurance agent caught the worst break of the tournament when a) somebody ran off with his ball, and b) a USGA official mistakenly ruled he had to tee it up again. Neither one should have happened. He should have been covered.

HERE'S TO LEE

It needs to be pointed out that Janzen's victory at the Open was his first tournament victory in three years, so you can forgive yourself if you didn't see it coming.

If there's one reason why Janzen might have won, the winner himself said it goes back to one thing--the 79 he shot on the last day of The Players Championship and blew a three-shot lead after 54 holes.

"If I hadn't . . . I might not have won the U.S. Open," Janzen said. "I really feel like that had something to do with it. It just made me tougher, made me stronger, made me realize that I just had to keep my mind a little bit more focused."

Maybe a new set of irons helped too. Janzen stuck a new set of Taylor Made irons in his bag at Colonial, basically because he had worn out the grooves on the old set.

And maybe a new attitude also helped. Instead of grinding on the range so he wouldn't leave anything out, Janzen tried another approach.

"I just played with an incredible calmness. I felt so comfortable. Even after 73 [on Thursday], I didn't feel any hint to press on Friday. . . . I just felt so comfortable with my game that three over was nothing."

The next major for Janzen is the British Open, which should be interesting for him since he has never finished higher than tied for 24th in five appearances and missed the cut last year at Troon, Scotland. But Janzen says he is ready, not only for the British Open, July 16-19 at Royal Birkdale in England, but also to try to win again this year.

"I do think that I feel confident about my game, that I can go out and win more tournaments this year," he said. "I feel much more comfortable about the British Open and PGA coming up. I don't feel any added pressure to win them, but I feel like I have a chance to win them because of what I accomplished."

WHAT HAS HE BEEN READING?

In WE magazine, whose primary readership is people with disabilities, Martin wrote a guest column and said he doesn't particularly like the way the media is covering him.

According to the article, Martin's main complaint is with reporters who "don't listen to my answers because they have their own agenda."

Said Martin: "Sometimes, they have an angle and will come after me relentlessly until they get their quote. . . . They hang around until they can take your words to suit the kind of story they want or have been assigned to write. That's when it's a distortion, and a pain for me."

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