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Sports Weekend | Golf

Last Look at Highs, Lows, Hits and Mis-Hits of Year

November 06, 1998|THOMAS BONK

It's about time for our annual two-month break from serious golf for exhibitions, televised special events and money-scooping contests all rolled into one, otherwise known as the Franklin Templeton-JC Penney-Wendy's Shootout.

However, before we go there, it's probably worth taking one last look at the 1998 professional golf season, may it roll on forever.

* Shot of the year: (tie) Lee Janzen and Justin Rose.

In the last round of the U.S. Open, Janzen's ball got caught in a tree, then fell just before he took a penalty. He wound up winning by one shot.

Rose, an English teenager, holed out from the fairway on the last hole on the last day of the British Open, then turned pro and made a million in endorsements.

* Player of the year: Mark O'Meara.

He won two majors. Would David Duval trade his year for O'Meara's? In a minute. Would O'Meara trade his for Duval's? No. End of discussion.

* Bust of the year: Nick Faldo.

A winless year got worse when he broke up with his girlfriend and she took a nine-iron to his car. One question: Was that a Mizuno? No matter, she swung it better than he did.

* Surprise of the year: Se Ri Pak.

She won four times, including the U.S Women's Open. What does she do for an encore?

* Tournament of the year: Masters.

O'Meara birdied three of the last four holes to win, which may be the only thing that had never happened before at Augusta, except for Rae's Creek flowing backward.

* Canning of the year: (tie) Hughes Norton and David Leadbetter.

Agent Norton got his walking papers despite negotiating $140 million in deals for Tiger Woods. Swing guru Leadbetter was fired by Faldo, a couple of months after Faldo was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame and credited Leadbetter as the key figure in his career.

* Sunglasses of the year: Duval.

(Or the Made in the Shades Award.) His are the wraparound kind that look like windshields for an overgrown bug.

* Quote of the year: (tie) F. Morgan "Buzz" Taylor of the USGA and George Archer.

From Taylor, defending the USGA's testing protocol of firing a golf ball at a stationary clubhead: "Does the manufacturer of the jet engine throw the engine at the bird or the bird at the engine?"

From Archer, veteran of seven operations: "I've been cut on more times than a piece of meat."

That's it. You're caught up. Feel free to take the rest of the year off.


She has won four times this year and leads the LPGA Tour money list, but Annika Sorenstam isn't satisfied.

"I'm a perfectionist," Sorenstam said. "My goal is to hit every fairway and one-putt every green."

Of course, that leaves out the possibilities of any holes in one, doesn't it? Anyway, Sorenstam has a chance for perfect shots and a pleasant payday at the LPGA's season-ending event, the $1-million PageNet Tour Championship, Nov. 19-22 at the Desert Inn Resort in Las Vegas.

Sorenstam said she is looking forward to the off-season and intends to be skiing by next month near her home at Incline Village, Nev. She also is shopping for a second home in Orlando, Fla.

Any particular kind?

"One very close to the airport."


Lee Trevino is a mere 18 years younger than born-again astronaut John Glenn, which prompted Trevino to offer this opinion on Glenn's shuttle mission:

"He's 77 years old. He should be sitting on a porch rocking. Whatever he learns in space in nine days, he'll forget about it two weeks after he gets back."


He misplaced his glasses under a chair at last week's tournament at Wilshire Country Club, but remembered them before he left the room.

Said Trevino: "I realized it when I couldn't see the damn doorknob."


Does it pay to play the Senior PGA Tour? Do golf balls roll?

Hale Irwin has a chance to be the top money winner in pro golf for the second year in a row, depending on how he does at this week's $2-million Senior Tour Championship.

All Irwin has to do is finish at least seventh to pass Duval's total of $2.591 million on the PGA Tour. Irwin has $2.514 million.

Last year, Irwin made more prize money than Woods--$2.3 million to $2.1 million.


The high cost of pain may never be so evident as at the PGA Tour qualifying school, where an estimated 1,200 paid a $4,000 entry fee--a $1,000 increase over last year.

Even though the tour boosted the Q School prize money from $500,000 to $1.2 million, the tour still would expect revenues of $4.1 million. In addition, the Golf Channel is paying a licensing fee to televise the finals.

John Kernohan, who plays on the Nike Tour, told Golf World that the tour is holding all the cards.

"Let's face it, they could charge double that and get away with it," he said. "We'd all still pay it. What else are we going to do? They're going to continue screwing us slowly."

The tour's position is that with tournament purses amounting to

$130 million in 1999, the idea is to make sure the players are serious.


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