THE SHARK HOSTS CLINTON
Greg Norman may not have slept in the President's guestroom, but
a President is going to sleep in Norman's. Last week White House
officials confirmed that President Bill Clinton is scheduled to
be an overnight guest of Norman's at his estate in Hobe Sound,
Fla., on Friday while he partners with the Shark in a two-day
member-guest tournament at Norman's home course, the Medalist
Club in Hobe Sound, which Norman codesigned with Pete Dye.
The game has been afoot since Norman extended his invitation to
President Clinton when they played a round at the New South
Wales Golf Club in Sydney last November. Since then, says
Norman, "we have communicated on almost a weekly basis. There's
a really nice chemistry between us."
While virtually every player on the PGA Tour professes to be a
staunch Republican, Norman says that the President's "middle of
the road policies" don't offend his own conservative
sensibilities. "I think we share some personality traits,"
Norman says. "We have a similar attitude toward life. I think
he's a real man's man."
The Secret Service has been preparing for the President's visit
for more than a month, rewiring some of the electrical and phone
lines in Norman's home and doing background checks on Medalist
employees. "It's a great honor, but it will be very low-key,"
says Norman. "The President wants to play golf, work out in my
gym, putt on the green in my backyard, have a few cold beers and
a couple of quiet dinners. He values occasions when he can be a
Clinton has been assigned a 13 handicap for the member-guest,
but the course is so difficult that some club members think the
President, who claims he once broke 80 (box, left), could take a
15 handicap and still get buried.
Then again, Clinton should get all the help he needs from
Norman, who will be playing the 7,159-yard course at the
customary pro's handicap of scratch (level par). The tournament
begins on Friday with a round of better-ball. Saturday's format
is a scramble.
"The President has a good idea what he's doing on the golf
course," says Norman. "He just needs to spend more time at it.
He has the attitude and the aptitude for scoring." Let's see if
the Shark's still saying that on Saturday night.
SAN JOSE STATE'S ONE-TWO PUNCH
Four years ago, when Janice Moodie and Arron Oberholser were
high school seniors looking for college scholarships, San Jose
State wasn't their first choice, it was their only choice.
Oberholser, from San Mateo, Calif., 20 miles north of San Jose,
had won nothing more significant than a regional high school
tournament. Moodie, from Glasgow, had six Scottish titles on her
resume, but they meant little to U.S. coaches. Both players
wrote dozens of letters asking for scholarships, but Oberholser
received only two offers, and San Jose State was the only school
interested in Moodie.
Today, lots of coaches wish they'd paid more attention because
Oberholser is the top-ranked men's college golfer in the country
and Moodie is No. 2 among the women, second only to defending
NCAA champion Marisa Baena of Arizona.
Oberholser won his first collegiate tournament when he was a
sophomore. Last year he took six more titles and finished ninth
in the NCAA championships, yet went largely unnoticed because he
played in the shadow of Stanford sophomore Tiger Woods. "I wish
Tiger were still here," says Oberholser. "He gave me so much
incentive. On the course we were polite, but we're both so
competitive we wanted to cut each other's throat."
Although Tiger is gone, Oberholser has maintained his edge. He
won the most prestigious tournament of the fall, the Golf
World/Palmetto Dunes Collegiate, in November and is among the
favorites to win the NCAAs in June. "I've had to prove I belong,
that I can play with the best," says Oberholser. "The long hours
of practice are finally paying off."
Moodie was a quicker study. She won the second collegiate
tournament she played in and has finished sixth, sixth and
fourth in three appearances at the NCAAs. Her career stroke
average of 73.41 is a school record, lower than those of such
San Jose alums as Juli Inkster and Patty Sheehan.
Moodie and Oberholser don't often play together, but they have
become close friends. "Arron is a lot of fun to hang around,"
says Moodie. "We kid each other a lot, but when it comes down to
it, we both have the same goal--to play the tour. If things work
out, that's where we'll be next year."
BRENT GEIBERGER FEASTS DURING FIRST YEAR ON TOUR
Of all the first-year players on the PGA Tour, the last one that
you would expect to be naive about Tour life would be Brent
Geiberger. After all, Brent's father, Al, has been pounding pro
fairways for the last 38 years. But Brent, 28, has proved that
there are some things you have to learn the hard way.
Last week at Doral, after shooting 70 in the first round,
Geiberger was disqualified because he carelessly turned in his
scorecard without having his playing partner, Chris Borgen, sign
it. A more embarrassing mistake, at least in the eyes of some
jaded veterans, was that Geiberger paid for food at tournaments
through most of the West Coast swing. It wasn't until the Nissan
Open, in Los Angeles, that an old hand showed Geiberger that he
could chow down for free in the players' dining room.
Still, Geiberger is off to a good start. In six tournaments he
has finished in the top 25 three times and earned $43,356. His
best finish was in Hawaii, where he was 19th. "My dad told me
I'm a good enough player to make it out here," says Geiberger.
"I just have to stay patient and keep looking."
A MISS AND A HIT BY CBS NEWCOMERS
Ben Crenshaw, who was hired as an on-course commentator by CBS,
has missed the cut in all five events in which he has played,
and sorry to say, he is not faring much better with the
During last Saturday's telecast from Doral, Gentle Ben said,
"You want to be able to land the ball where you want to." Later,
while discussing an interview he had had with Nick Price about a
change Price had made in his putting stroke, Crenshaw said, "For
the life of me, I can't remember what he told me."
Fortunately for CBS, it also has a rising star in David Feherty,
who last week came up with a gem. Anchormen Jim Nantz and Ken
Venturi were talking about David Duval's many second-place
finishes and his failure to win when Feherty's Irish brogue came
floating over the airwaves. "Learning to win is like learning to
walk," he said. "There's always a lot of falling down involved."
Crenshaw's many friends hope the same can be said about
THE SHAG BAG
Low son of the week at Doral went to Robert Floyd, a junior at
Florida, who shot a two-over-par 290 and finished 40th, five
shots and 16 places ahead of his father, Ray. Jack Nicklaus and
his son Gary, 28, both missed the cut with 146 and 147,
respectively....Michigan ranked first in 1996 for new courses
opened (34) and new courses under construction (62). Behind
Michigan in openings were North Carolina (32) and Florida (31).
In construction, the next two states were California (50) and
Florida (46)....Arnold Palmer has joined Santa Claus and the
President on the short list of people who get mail without an
address. Many letters sent to Palmer after his surgery for
prostate cancer were addressed, "Arnold Palmer, U.S.A."...To
stop pros from launching drives out of the practice tee at
Augusta National onto Washington Road, the club raised the
netting at the end of the tee to 65 feet in '94. That wasn't
enough to stop the likes of John Daly and Tiger Woods, so this
year the club added 20 feet of netting....At Doral, Vijay Singh
made his Tour-high 28th straight cut. His last missed cut came
in the '95 PGA, at Riviera....Zoran Zorkic, the only pro we've
heard of whose first and last names begin with Z-o-r, was beaten
by Franklin Langham in a playoff in the Peachtree City Classic,
the Hooters Tour's first event of the season.
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATION BY PATRICK MILBOURN [Drawing of Bill Clinton and Greg Norman in golf cart]
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK Moodie and Oberholser have flourished at San Jose State. [Janice Moodie and Arron Oberholser]
ASK THE PROFESSORS
Did Clinton Break 80?
President Clinton might've been assigned a 13 handicap for this
week's member-guest at Medalist, but the Golf Plus Professors,
our panel of 20 of the game's top teachers, are convinced that
with a number like that he'll never be accused of being a
sandbagger. Asked if they believe that the President broke 80
for the first time last summer--Clinton says he shot 79 at the
Coronado Golf Club outside San Diego--our panelists were
suspicious. "Only if he used six mulligans," says one of the
Profs, all of whom are familiar with the President's game.
NO 14 YES 6
Statistically, Lisa Kiggens is the LPGA's best putter, but
according to a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED survey of 20 players, the
stats lie. Here's who the players, voting for one person in each
category, think are the best.
Karrie Webb 9
Laura Davies 6
Kelly Robbins 4
Annika Sorenstam 9
Beth Daniel 4
Karrie Webb 2
Caroline Pierce 4
Hollis Stacy 4
Laura Davies 5
Annika Sorenstam 4
Emilee Klein 3
Annika Sorenstam 7
Jane Crafter 5
Liselotte Neumann 3
Karrie Webb 10
Annika Sorenstam 7
Kelly Robbins 2
The difference, in dollars, between the career earnings of Bobby
Wadkins ($2,589,239 in 606 starts) and David Duval ($2,249,617
in 73), the top two nonwinners on the Tour's alltime money list.