BELL AND THE BOYS' CLUB
The good ol' boys at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St.
Andrews will allow U.S. Golf Association president Judy Bell to
eat in their men-only dining room and are busy making plans to
honor her "in recognition of her achievements" as the first
woman to hold the USGA's highest office. But don't get any crazy
ideas: Bell has no shot at becoming a member of the R&A, an
honor granted to the last 10 USGA presidents.
"It was a matter of some debate by the policy committee, but it
was decided that it would be wrong to make her a member," says
George Wilson, deputy secretary of the R&A. The R&A concluded
that if Bell were invited, it would create a bad precedent.
After all, even Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom
isn't a member. Not that being a woman has anything to do with
it, the R&A would have you believe.
"There's nothing in the rules that says there shan't be lady
members," Wilson says. "I'm afraid that's the way the club has
evolved. I don't believe a woman would want to be a member, and
I'm sure Judy feels the same way."
In fact, she does. A traditionalist, Bell is a member of two
all-women golf clubs in Scotland, one in St. Andrews and another
at Royal Troon. She says she has an excellent working
relationship with the R&A and points out that her predecessors
at the USGA were all R&A members before taking office.
"I'm not bothered by it at all," she says. "And this isn't
contrived. It's the way I feel."
Appearance fees are verboten on the PGA Tour, but there's
nothing in the rules against giving a player a long-distance
lift. When Raymond Floyd decided that he would have to skip last
week's Bruno's Classic in Birmingham to see his sons play in the
NCAA Championships outside Chattanooga, Bruno's officials
suggested an alternative. Would Floyd play if he were shuttled
back and forth to the NCAAs? When he answered in the
affirmative, an anonymous "friend of the tournament" donated a
helicopter, and Floyd commuted the 120 miles to watch Raymond
Jr. (Wake Forest) and Robert (Florida) play for the national
title. Having the helicopter was worth $28,875 to Dad, who won
that much for tying for eighth. He didn't get to see a whole lot
of Ray Jr., whose team missed the cut, but Robert shot 305 to
place 35th and help Florida tie for sixth.
Much has been made of two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North's
not getting a free pass to Oakland Hills, site of his 1985
victory, but what about the snub to Fuzzy Zoeller? The
Fuzzmeister won the Open in 1984 and was fifth on the money list
in 1994. Still, he had a horrible year in '95 because of a back
injury, and the USGA Championship Committee limited invitations
to Jack Nicklaus, Jumbo Ozaki and Tom Watson. The difference
between North and Zoeller is that Fuzzy took it like ... like
"Hell, I'm a past champion. I feel it's my obligation as a
golfer to try to qualify," said Zoeller, who planned to tee it
up in a sectional on June 4 in Tenafly, N.J. Although he has not
been forced to play the Open's 36-hole qualifier in more than a
decade, Zoeller was raring to go. "For god's sakes, it's a major
championship," he said. "Why should I have second thoughts?"
They seemed inseparable--LPGA rookie sensation Karrie Webb hit
the shots while her fiance, Todd Haller, caddied and counseled.
Together they won the HealthSouth Inaugural and the Sprint
Titleholders, and surged to the top of the money list.
But the stress that comes with instant success, especially at
such a young age--Webb is 21, Haller, 25--apparently has caused
a rift in their relationship. Haller abandoned Webb in
mid-tournament three weeks ago in Japan and was not on her bag
the following week for the Corning (N.Y.) Classic, where Webb
came in 75th, the worst finish of her short LPGA career, or
during the U.S. Women's Open, in which she placed 19th.
At the Open, Webb turned aside inquiries about Haller. "I've
answered a lot of questions this year," she said. "My personal
life is my personal life." Haller, however, had indicated at the
Titleholders that Webb's dream season was not all that it
appeared to be. "Oh, god, it's the hardest thing I've ever
done," he told reporters. "Twenty-four hours a day, every
day....There's an incredible strain on the relationship. We try
to leave the game on the golf course, but she's got to let off
the steam at someone."
THE SHORT GAME
Fred Couples reinjured his back on May 20 during an outing
hosted by Andrew Magee and is not expected to play in this
week's Buick Classic. Couples has spent three days with
therapist Tom Boers in Columbus, Ga., and hopes to be ready for
the U.S. Open.... Defending champion Greg Norman made a 48-hour
cameo at the Memorial, arriving Wednesday (after a visit to a
course he's designing in Atlanta) and leaving Friday after
missing his third cut of the year....Joe Ozaki had a run of 28
straight fairways hit in regulation at the Memorial, but that's
only halfway to the Tour record. Calvin Peete twice hit all 56
fairways at a tournament. (Par-3s don't figure in this
statistic.) Brian Claar and David Frost each did it once. Like
Ozaki, Peete (in 1986 and '87) and Claar (1992) put together
their streaks at the Memorial, where the fairways are among the
widest on the Tour.... The hottest player in golf is neither
Mark O'Meara nor Phil Mickelson. It's Andrew Morse. Morse won a
fourth straight Hooters tour event on Sunday in Rantoul, Ill....
Justin Leonard has made Cosmopolitan's list of The Planet's 75
Most Eligible Heartthrobs.
COLOR PHOTO: JACQUELINE DUVOISIN Zoeller (left) will do anything to make the Open, while Webb and Haller no longer see eye-to-eye. [Fuzzy Zoeller]
ROBERT BECK [See caption above--Karrie Webb and Todd Haller]