Perhaps figuring that at age 41 his best earning years are
numbered, Greg Norman last week threatened to file a restraint
of trade lawsuit against Ken Schofield, executive director of
the European tour, after Schofield called for a reduction in the
appearance fees offered by tournament sponsors. As both the
world's No. 1-ranked player and top gate attraction, Norman
commands a reported $300,000 to play in events outside the
U.S.--where such payments are strictly prohibited--and claims that
any change discriminates against him.
"Eliminating appearance money is up to the sponsors," Norman
said in Perth, Australia, where he was playing in the Heineken
Classic. "They cannot be dictated to. They can do what they
like. No one is ever going to change that."
Schofield, who was also in Perth, doesn't think Norman or his
manager, Frank Williams, has much of a case. Schofield has
written to the sponsors of the Dubai Desert Classic, the
Murphy's Irish Open and the Canon European Masters recommending
that they not pay an appearance fee of more than 25% of the
purse to any single player.
"If a fellow is qualified to enter, it is hard to say that he is
being restrained," Schofield says. "We are doing what is best
for the majority. If Frank and Greg say they are being
restrained, I say to them, 'You must test that.' I have talked
to our legal counsel and am pretty relaxed about our position."
The European tour banned appearance fees several years ago, but
sponsors have gotten around the rule by offering star players
huge sums to appear at cocktail parties or outings connected
with their tournaments. Schofield's letters went to the three
events that most egregiously breach the appearance fee rule
(Norman, not coincidentally, played in all three last year). At
Dubai, for example, he received a fee equal to 44% of the purse,
plus jet fuel. And at the Irish Open, Norman said that if he had
known Murphy's was going to use his face on beer mats for a
six-month advertising campaign, he would have asked for more
than $300,000. Norman promised to return half of his fee when he
missed the cut at the European Masters.
In his farewell speech, outgoing USGA president Reg Murphy said
he hopes to see the day when spike marks can be legally tamped
down and ties in the U.S. Open will be decided in a nine-hole
playoff that begins immediately upon conclusion of regulation
play. Judy Bell, Murphy's successor, offhandedly dismisses both
suggestions. Nine holes on a Sunday evening makes sense, Bell
agrees, because it would avoid the anticlimactic Monday playoff,
but isn't practical given TV's scheduling needs. Bell was
especially adamant about the spike-mark rule, saying, "If there
is only one rule, it would be this: play the course as you find
it, and the ball as it lies."
Last year wasn't a total wash for Robert Landers, the Texas
farmer turned Senior tour player. Although he didn't play well
enough to keep his card, "Farmer Bob" made hay on the tour--more
than $200,000, including endorsements, which allowed him to pay
off his mortgage, buy a tractor and a pickup truck, and dole out
cash to needy people in Azle, Texas, over the holidays. "We know
a lot of very poor people because we were poor ourselves," says
his wife, Freddie.
Landers was in Key Biscayne, Fla., last week at the Royal
Caribbean Classic marking the one-year anniversary of his
much-hyped Senior tour debut. This time, playing on a sponsor's
exemption, he had no Moo Crew to cheer him on or nosy reporters
peppering him with questions. The lack of attention seemed to
suit him. "It was kind of quiet out there, but that's O.K.,"
Because of Landers's uncertain schedule--he is allowed an
unlimited number of sponsor's exemptions and must qualify to get
into any other events--Freddie has taken over as his caddie, a
job she successfully performed during his triumphant run through
the Q school for the 1995 season. Freddie does all the work a
regular caddie would do, but draws the line at one task. "I
don't do sand traps," she says.
HIT AND MS.
Sally Voss Krueger downplayed her invitation to play in the AT&T
Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. She refused to make a big deal
about being the first woman to play in the event since her last
appearance, in 1981. "I am surprised by the attention," said
Krueger. "There is a long history of women in this tournament.
This is the third time I've played. Babe Zaharias, Nancy Lopez
and Beth Daniel have been here. I don't think it warrants all
The question of women playing in the AT&T and its forerunner,
the Crosby, has long been a topic of discussion among golfers in
northern California and beyond. A story, probably apocryphal,
that has made the rounds holds that the only reason Zaharias
became the first woman invited was that tournament officials
thought she was a man. Daniel was a collegian and Lopez had just
left school when they played in the 1970s. Krueger, then Sally
Voss, had recently graduated from Stanford when she and Juli
Inkster played in 1981.
Krueger's positive spin was appreciated by tournament
organizers, who had been accused by some of hiding a case of
gender discrimination through an act of tokenism (Krueger was
the only woman in the field of 360 amateurs). Her golf was
appreciated by everyone.
A six-time San Francisco Ladies Amateur champ, Krueger helped
her team 10 shots and along with pro partner Doug Martin was 15
under par and just five strokes off the lead when the tournament
was canceled. Krueger, an anesthesiologist at the California
Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, had to play from the
same tees as the amateur men and was assigned a 10 handicap, six
more than she gets at the all-male San Francisco Golf Club,
where she is a member of the ladies' annex. But nobody was
accusing her of sandbagging. "She plays a great game," said
Martin. "She's an exceptional amateur, male or female." At the
par-5 18th hole, Krueger hit driver, seven-wood and eight-iron
to 70 feet, two-putting for par (net birdie). Not long after,
Hughes Norton, the defending pro-am champion and an eight
handicap, hit driver, three-wood, eight-iron to reach the same
"From what I understand, she could play on the Curtis Cup every
other year if not for her medical practice," said Justin Leonard
after playing in the same foursome as Krueger. "She shot 79
today from those tees, and no offense, but I'm sure there are
some women on the LPGA tour who would've had a hard time beating
THE SHORT GAME
Nathaniel Crosby, the son of tournament founder Bing Crosby and
a member of the Monterey Peninsula Golf Foundation, scoffs at
speculation that the AT&T might be moved from Pebble Beach
because the tournament, which is run by the foundation, does not
have a contract with the company that owns the courses. Crosby
does say, however, that he's intent on raising more for charity
by increasing the $3,500 fee paid by pro-am participants....
Because of a medical exemption, Rocco Mediate had seven
tournaments this season to add $40,000 to his 1995 earnings and
thereby retain his Tour card. He did that in his first event
since last July, finishing in a tie for sixth in Phoenix....
Times change. Only three pros (Davis Love III, Justin Leonard
and Omar Uresti) in the field of 180 at Pebble Beach used a
persimmon-headed driver with a steel shaft.... Hale Irwin had a
reunion at the Royal Caribbean Classic with former Miami Dolphin
Dick Anderson, his teammate on the University of Colorado
football team 30 years ago. They were both all-Big Eight. "He
was the strong safety," said Irwin. "I was the smart one."
COLOR PHOTO: REUTER Norman, revved up about reduced appearance fees, got a free ride at the Euro tour opener in Singapore. [Greg Norman riding motorcycle]
COLOR PHOTO: JACQUELINE DUVOISIN Krueger (above) and future 15-time LPGA winner Inkster were the last women to play the AT&T, in '81. [Sally Voss Krueger]
COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES At Christmas the Landerses shared their golf winnings with needy friends back home in Texas. [Robert Landers and Freddie Landers]