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Sports Weekend | GOLF

They'll Try to Hold Cards, Not Fold

October 30, 1998|THOMAS BONK

The hot seat is a little crowded this weekend at the Pacific Bell Senior Classic at Wilshire Country Club for such players as Tom Jenkins, David Lundstrom, John Morgan, Ed Dougherty, Joe Inman, Bud Allin and Bobby Stroble.

These guys are ranked between No. 36 and No. 46 on the money list and are going to be grinding like crazy to improve their position-- and their chances at getting into more Senior PGA Tour events in 1999.

The top 31 players on the 1998 money list have the first priority for exemptions into 1999 tournaments, which makes it the senior equivalent of the top 125 on the PGA Tour.

Limited exemptions are available from Nos. 32 through 50. If you're No. 51 (which is Jerry McGee right now), it's back to qualifying school. However, McGee isn't headed that way because he's in the top 70 on the all-time money list--that's the second priority for being exempt.

So exemptions for a 78-player senior tournament are, in order, the top 31 on the money list, the next 31 to a floor of 70 on the all-time money list, tournament winners, the top eight from qualifying school, four players from Monday qualifying and four sponsor's picks.

Holding on to a place in the top 31 is usually pretty nerve-racking. At last year's Wilshire tournament, No. 30 Bob Dickson was bumped by Bob Duval, and No. 31 J.C. Snead was bumped by Hubert Green.

FREQUENT FLIER

Like to travel? Sure you do. But check out Mark O'Meara's schedule, beginning next weekend: from his home in Florida to a tournament in Japan, to Hawaii for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, to Florida for the player-of-the-year awards ceremony, to Palm Springs for the Skins Game, to South Africa for a tournament, then to Australia for the Presidents Cup.

What's O'Meara doing next week before he starts the big trip? He's going to Park City, Utah, to ski.

O'Meara's golf for 1998 ends Dec. 14.

"I'm looking at the calendar," he said. "I'm tired right now."

SIGNING ON

Would you trade six Sam Sneads for one Ben Hogan? Or 14 Tiger Woodses for one Bobby Jones?

That would be pretty close to the actual exchange rate, at least in the form of money, for their autographs.

According to pricing by Gilchrest's Guide for Golf Collectibles printed in Golf Digest, an actual Hogan signature is worth $125 to $20 for Snead. A Woods autograph goes for about $100 while Jones' is worth $1,450.

Then there are Nick Faldo, Hale Irwin and Nancy Lopez for $10, Fred Couples for $15 and Jack Nicklaus for $75.

Arnold Palmer's autograph is judged to be worth $25, probably because you could paper the highway from Los Angeles to Latrobe, Pa., with them. Palmer estimates that since 1954 he has signed an average of 1,500 autographs a week--or about 3.4 million.

AND THE ALTERNATIVE?

Lanny Wadkins turns 50 in December 1999, which makes him eligible for the Senior PGA Tour. Yes, he knows it's out there, but. . . .

"I'm not looking forward to it because I'm not looking forward to being 50."

STREAKER

Woods is on a streak. He's playing the Presidents Cup in Melbourne, Australia, to continue his streak of not having played a team event in the U.S.

"I've played a World Cup in France, a Walker Cup in Wales, a Ryder Cup in Spain and [will play] a Presidents Cup in Australia," Woods said. "I don't know what it's like for people to be rooting for me."

OMMM

Randy McWilliams is a Palm Springs-based restaurateur, nutrition expert and fitness guru who started working with Nike Tour golfer Robin Lee Freeman . . . as his caddie and trainer in May.

Apparently, that second helping of seaweed worked. Freeman won twice, finished second on the Nike Tour money list and earned his PGA Tour card for 1999.

What did McWilliams do for Freeman? The usual, McWilliams said.

"Diet, stretching, the pool, yoga," McWilliams said.

If this keeps up, tofu may replace swing thoughts.

CASEY KNOCKED OUT

You may have noticed that Casey Martin finished 47th in the 50-player field at the Nike Tour Championship, thus assuring himself of a trip to the PGA Tour qualifying school.

Martin finished No. 29 on the Nike Tour money list with $81,937 and needed to finish in the top 15 to automatically earn his regular-tour card.

His rounds at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Mobile, Ala., were not exactly card-making material: 82-83-75-76.

Said Martin after his 83: "You needed a calculator out there."

Martin needed to finish in the top 25 on the money list to get a bye until the finals of qualifying school and must now play in the second stage next week at Seaside, near Monterey.

BIRDIES, BOGEYS, PARS

Roger Clemens, Kevin Costner, William Devane, Ken Griffey Jr., Matt Lauer, Matthew McConaughey, Joe Pesci, Alan Thicke and Alberto Tomba are among the celebrities who will play in the $1-million Lexus Challenge, Dec. 16-19 at La Quinta's Citrus Course.

Senior PGA Tour players who will play include Irwin, Raymond Floyd, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Larry Nelson and Dave Stockton. The event benefits Childhelp USA and the Entertainment Industry Foundation. Details: (703) 905-3300.

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