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Bridgestone and Spalding have put a new spin on golf-ball design
by developing balls with two covers. Nick Faldo used the
Bridgestone Precept Double Cover to win the Masters, while Mark
O'Meara has a first and a second with an as-yet-unnamed
Top-Flite ball that has a second cover. No double-cover ball is
available to the public yet. The manufacturers of the new balls
say they offer the distance found in Surlyn-covered two-piece
balls with the feel associated with softer balata-covered
models. "It's our opinion that multilayer constructions are the
future in golf ball design. We see it as the frontier," says Joe
Henley, Top-Flite director of marketing development and
professional relations.

Others, particularly those who have not developed a multicovered
product, view the new balls as a marketing gimmick. After all,
they say, is Nick Faldo longer because of his Mizuno T-Zoid
driver or the ball? "The dimple wars have ended, and now we're
into the construction wars," says Dick Lyons of Maxfli. "For all
of us it's about marketing. The improvements we make are small
steps, and we always want to project them as big steps."


The countdown to the June 13-16 U.S. Open has begun, and Oakland
Hills Country Club is racing to recover from a harsh Midwestern
winter followed by an abnormally cold and wet spring. "Right now
it looks like it could be the dead of winter," says Steve
Glossinger, superintendent of the Birmingham, Mich., course.
Last week 12 of the 18 greens were still being covered by
tarpaulins at night for warmth, certain sections of the course
were recovering from ice damage, and the rough was only three
inches deep. Still, with the Open just five weeks away, the USGA
is confident that the Monster will regain its bite in time.

"Everybody got a little nervous because it wasn't greening up,"
says Tim Moraghan, the USGA's agronomist, "but they just need a
little warm weather." It was snowing and sleeting early last
week when Moraghan, USGA vice president F. Morgan Taylor, and
rules and competitions director Tom Meeks inspected the course.


What do you do if you're fast approaching the big Four-0? Drop
30 pounds, which is what newly svelte Nancy Lopez has done. In
January the 39-year-old Lopez hired a personal trainer and began
working out two hours a day, six days a week. She also cut out
dairy products and--voila!--is now two dress sizes smaller (10).
"I know 40 isn't old," Lopez says, "but to me it is."


Greg Norman got so much mail after his loss at the Masters that
he paid $45,000 for full-page thank-you ads in Golf World,
Golfweek and the Sydney Telegraph. "He received over 7,500 faxes
and more than 3,000 letters, and they're still coming in," says
Frank Williams, Norman's manager. "There was no way he could
possibly respond to them all."...Cathy Gerring, who missed the
cut in the Sprint Titleholders after rounds of 75-74, was making
her first start in a regular LPGA event since she was severely
burned in a fire at the 1992 Sara Lee Classic....In the midst of
a 21-day trip around the world to visit golf course projects,
Jack Nicklaus will stop in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska this
weekend to hunt brown bear. Nicklaus has never bagged a bear,
golden or otherwise.

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER Faldo won in Augusta with a double-covered ball not yet available to the public. [Nick Faldo looking at golf ball]




For someone who has won $1.8 million on Tour since January 1995,
Mark O'Meara is known to have a remarkably keen eye for a
bargain. When describing him, some of his fellow pros bring up
the C-word (no, not choke), but we think the F-word, frugal, is
more on the mark. This year, after he missed the cut at Doral,
O'Meara dashed back to his hotel to avoid a late checkout
charge. "That was 40 bucks. That was big," he says. "That paid
for the gas down and back [to his home in Orlando], plus the
toll." We asked O'Meara to rate his favorite places to stay when
he's alone on the road. Keep in mind, he's a no-frills kind of
guy. "If I want candies on my pillow," he says, "I can stop at a
7-Eleven and pick up a pack of M&Ms." His only prerequisites are
cable TV and good towels. (If it takes more than one after a
shower, he won't come back.) Here's how O'Meara thinks the rooms

[Three piggy banks] COURTYARD MARRIOTT

"The rooms are a little bigger--I get a king-sized nonsmoking,
which usually comes with a couch. They've got a nice remote
control and usually 14 to 16 channels, but they don't always get
TNT or TBS, which is essential for the NBA playoffs."

[Two-and-a-half piggy banks] FAIRFIELD INN

"Just a step below the Courtyard. It's not as expensive, the
rooms are about one third the size, and they've usually got a
pool but no restaurant. I don't need a restaurant if there's a
McDonald's close by."

[Two piggy banks] HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS

"Nice because they're newer. New is key. When you walk into the
room of an older hotel, sometimes it doesn't smell so good.
That's important to me."

[One piggy bank] RED ROOF OR LA QUINTA

"There are pluses and minuses. I used to stay in them more, but
the walls are thin and sometimes I can't get a decent night's
sleep. The good thing is when you check out: You've got a big
smile on your face because you're paying for seven nights what
some people are paying for one night."

[Three piggy banks] Leading money winner [Two piggy banks] Comfort zone [One piggy bank] Caddie shack