Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

FOCUS ON GOLF | CHAMPIONS TOUR

Hale Isn't Falling Yet

February 20, 2003|Michael Arkush

1 Is Hale Irwin still the champion of them all? Yes, until somebody knocks him off. Irwin turns 58 in June, yet with his unmatched intensity and the way he keeps himself in shape, there's no reason to believe he'll move aside. Irwin stumbled a bit the final two days of the MasterCard Championship in Hawaii but rebounded with a tie for seventh at the ACE Group Classic at Naples, Fla. In 2002, Irwin finished in the top 10 in 22 of his 27 starts.

*

2 Who will be his most formidable challengers? Some of the usual suspects such as Tom Kite, Bruce Fleisher, Larry Nelson and Bob Gilder. Also look out for Fuzzy Zoeller, who should improve from a so-so rookie season ... as long as he stays away from television reporters. Another good possibility is Bruce Lietzke, beginning his second full season. Don't count out tour ironman Dana Quigley, who won the season opener in Hawaii and tied for 10th in Key Biscayne, Fla.

*

3 Which rookies will emerge? The best of the 50-year-olds should be the Walrus, Craig Stadler, who will make his debut in June. He appears intent on making himself eligible for the season-ending Tour Championship. D.A. Weibring (May 25), Ed Fiori (April 21) and Andy Bean (March 13) should also make an impact, along with Des Smyth of Ireland, the Qualifying School medalist.

*

4 Can Jack come back one more time? The odds looked a lot better when Nicklaus, who has dropped more than 20 pounds, shot a 66 in Hawaii, his lowest competitive round since the 1996 British Open. The Golden Bear was so pumped up by his performance that he even brought up the possibility of playing in the Masters, which he skipped in 2002. Then he finished 58th in Naples, failing to shoot a single round in the 60s. If he were able to contend in even a handful of events, it would be a huge boost for a tour that is looking for a spark.

*

5 Who's hot? Royal Caribbean winner Dave Barr, in contention in Naples until the last few holes.... ACE Group champion Vicente Fernandez, who was 17th in Key Biscayne.... Gil Morgan, second in Key Biscayne and fourth last week.... Tom Watson, fourth in Hawaii, second in Naples.

*

6 Who's not: Gilder, with one only of nine rounds in the 60s.... Bob Murphy (68th in Key Biscayne, 62nd in Naples).... Ben Crenshaw (71st, 44th).

*

7 Biggest surprises: Leonard Thompson, who has improved each week (21st, 12th, seventh), aiming to rebound from a mediocre 2002.... Jay Overton, fourth in Naples, his best finish in 22 tour appearances.... Bobby Walzel, two top 25s; he had only five in 2002.

*

8 Best shot under pressure: Dave Barr's 35-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win in Key Biscayne. After putting his second shot next to the bleachers on the par five, Barr couldn't get his approach close to the pin. "My nemesis has always been my putter," said Barr, who used one he has carried since 1971. "People keep asking me why I keep using that old thing."

*

9 Worst shot under pressure: Holding a one-shot lead, Morgan sent his tee shot at the 18th in Key Biscayne into the mangroves, forcing him to take a penalty stroke. Coming off a birdie on the previous hole, Morgan, using a new driver, had stepped away from the tee the first time when he was distracted by a noise. He lost by a stroke to Barr.

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

LPGA

Money Leaders

Final 2002

*--* No Player Tournaments Money 1 Annika Sorenstam 23 $2,863,904 2 Se Ri Pak 24 $1,722,281 3 Juli Inkster 20 $1,154,349 4 Mi Hyun Kim 28 $1,049,993 5 Karrie Webb 21 $1,009,760 6 Grace Park 28 $861,943 7 Laura Diaz 25 $843,790 8 Carin Koch 25 $785,817 9 Rachel Teske 27 $779,329 10 Rosie Jones 24 $722,412

*--*

Champions Tour Money Leaders

Through Feb. 16

*--* No Player Tournaments Money 1 Dana Quigley 3 $291,210 2 Vicente Fernandez 2 $260,416 3 Dave Barr 2 $251,100 4 Gil Morgan 3 $219,900 5 Tom Watson 2 $217,500 6 Larry Nelson 3 $204,016 6 Bobby Wadkins 2 $130,300 8 Des Smyth 1 $128,000 9 Tim Purtzer 2 $127,700 10 Fuzzy Zoeller 3 $121,408

*--*

LPGA Tour at a Glance

UPCOMING EVENTS

*--* Dates Tournament 2002 Champ March 13-16 Welch's/Fry's Championship, Randolph Laura Diaz North Golf Course,Tucson, Ariz March 20-23 PING Banner Health, Moon Valley Rachel Teske Country Club,Phoenix March 27-30 Kraft Nabisco Championship, Mission Annika Sorenstam Hills Country Club,Rancho Mirage April 4-6 The Office Depot Hosted by Amy Alcott, Se Ri Pak El Caballero Country Club,Tarzana

*--*

Champions Tour at a Glance

RESULTS

*--* Dates Tournament Champion Runner-up Jan. 27-Feb. 2 MasterCard Dana Quigley Larry Nelson Championship Feb. 3-9 Royal Caribbean Dave Barr Bobby Wadkins, Golf Classic Gil Morgan Feb. 10--16 The ACE Group Vicente Fernandez Des Smyth, Tom Classic Watson

*--*

UPCOMING EVENTS

*--* Dates Tournam Site (TV) Defending champion ent Fri.-Sun Verizon TPC of Tampa Bay, Lutz, FL Doug Tewell Classic (CNBC) March 3--9 The BosqueReal CC, Col. Lomas Bruce Lietzke BosqueR Altas, Mexico (CNBC) eal Champio nship March 10--16 SBC Valencia CC, Valencia Tom Kite Classic (CNBC) March 17--23 Toshiba Newport Beach CC, Newport Hale Irwin Senior Beach (CNBC) Classic

*--*

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|