BOWIE WINS NCAA FINAL
Judging by the way Texas senior Heather Bowie hung on for a
two-shot victory at the NCAA Women's Championships last Saturday
in Columbus, Ohio, one would never have guessed that less than
24 hours earlier she was a wreck. Last Friday night Bowie, who
transferred to Texas in 1995 after two All-America years at
Arizona State, sought out her best friend, Arizona State junior
Jody Niemann, and broke into tears. "I don't like being in this
position because everyone expects me to win," said Bowie, who
held a one-shot lead. "If I don't win, then I'm a failure."
Bowie was also worried about her maternal grandmother, Carol
Nutter. During dinner with relatives that evening, Bowie learned
that Nutter, 62, who has ovarian cancer, had checked into a
Baltimore hospital to undergo further treatment. "I knew Grandma
wasn't doing well, so I tried not to think about it," said
Bowie, who was competing as an individual because the Longhorns
didn't qualify as a team.
Bowie, who's from Edmond, Okla., had to feel as if the world
were against her in another respect. The overwhelming presence
of foreigners made the NCAAs seem like a United Nations
gathering. Eleven players from 11 foreign countries were among
the top 20 finishers at the Scarlet Course at Ohio State,
including '96 NCAA champ Marisa Baena of Colombia (Arizona, tied
for second place), Janice Moodie of Scotland (San Jose State,
also tied for second), Jessica Lindbergh of Sweden (Tennessee,
sixth) and Thuhashini Selvaratnam of Sri Lanka (Arizona State,
tied for seventh).
Throughout the final round Niemann, who was playing in the group
behind Bowie, lent support to her friend through secret hand
signals the two of them call Little Sparky. Bowie shot 70, two
under par, for a 285 total, and held off late charges from Baena
and Moodie, who finished at 287 after rounds of 69 and 71,
respectively. Arizona State junior Kellee Booth, fifth at 290,
led her Lady Wildcats to the team crown with a 26-over 1,178,
two strokes ahead of San Jose State.
After finishing her round, Bowie borrowed her coach's cellular
phone and from a quiet area behind the 18th green called her
grandmother. "She cried a lot, and I cried a lot," Bowie said.
Then at the awards ceremony she grabbed the championship trophy
and announced to the crowd, "This is for you, Nana."
TOUGH CHOICE IS AN EASY CALL FOR OGRIN
Be true to your sport or your spouse? Because of their itinerant
lifestyles, pro athletes sometimes have to make that choice.
However, when Tour player David Ogrin wrestled with the question
in the wee hours of the morning on May 18, he had an added
element to factor in.
At 3 a.m., six hours before Ogrin was to tee off in the final
round of the Byron Nelson Classic in Irving, Texas, his wife,
Sharon, called to say she had just gone into labor at their
house near San Antonio. Ogrin was in 53rd place in the
tournament, and while winning was out of the question--Tiger
Woods took care of that--a great final round could have moved
him into the top 10 and earned him $50,000 or so. Complicating
Ogrin's decision was the fact that the baby was not his. Sharon
was acting as a surrogate mother for her sister Dee, whose
husband, James Gomez, is the father. Ogrin says he thought about
it for 20 minutes. "Being a basic lunkhead, I wanted to finish
the tournament," Ogrin says. "But in the end I had to be there.
I wouldn't have missed it for the world."
Ogrin left Irving at 4:30 and drove 250 miles to Methodist
hospital in San Antonio, arriving at 9:45. One hour later Jamie
Allynn Gomez, niece of David and Sharon Ogrin, was born. "Sharon
had the baby, but James and Dee are raising it," says Ogrin, who
has four children. "It's a different but wonderful thing to be a
ALL RYDER CUP PIECES FALLING INTO PLACE FOR SEVE
After opening with a 76 and then complaining of back pain, Seve
Ballesteros dropped out of last week's Volvo PGA Championship at
the Wentworth Golf Club in Virginia Water, England. So why was
he smiling and joking with the media? For the first time since
he was appointed Ryder Cup captain, Ballesteros is happy with
the way the European team is shaping up for the September
showdown against the U.S. at Valderrama.
In the last few months Ballesteros has watched four Ryder Cup
veterans climb from the depths of the points list into the top
10. Jose Maria Olazabal's remarkable return to golf has been
well documented; Per-Ulrik Johansson, a 1995 Ryder Cup veteran,
cemented a berth on the team two weeks ago by winning the
English Open; and Ian Woosnam, who won the Volvo, has also
rekindled his erratic game. Then there is the story of Bernhard
Nine months ago Langer began contemplating life after golf. He
had just turned 39 and was bewitched by the yips for the third
time in his 20-year professional career. After missing the cut
in the U.S. Open at Oakland Hills, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.,
Langer said, "I don't enjoy golf now. I'm not putting a time
limit on it, but if things don't improve I'll have to look for
something else to do."
By August, having seen no signs of improvement, Langer was at
his wit's end. After consulting with '95 Ryder Cup teammates Sam
Torrance and Phillip Walton, both users of long-shafted putters,
Langer turned to this club as a last resort. "Yes, it was a blow
to my pride, and at first I was unconvinced it would work," says
He was wrong. In November, Langer won the Alfred Dunhill Masters
in Hong Kong, and he has been on an upward swing ever since.
Early last month he had back-to-back victories at the Italian
Open and at the Benson and Hedges International, and now he
leads the European tour in money and Ryder Cup points.
With so many veterans playing well, Ballesteros is no longer
dismayed at the prospect of having rookies on his team. "The
team is coming together very well," Ballesteros said at
Wentworth. "I'm especially delighted to see Langer's return to
form. But also I'm pleased that we're likely to have four or
five rookies. It is all very good."
TIGER CURES GIVE DARCY ONLY TEMPORARY RELIEF
After Irishman Eamonn Darcy shot 66 in the first round at the
Volvo PGA to tie countryman Darren Clarke for the lead, British
scribes were comparing the 44-year-old with Tiger Woods. DARCY
FIGHTS LIKE TIGER FOR THE LEAD, read a headline in The Guardian.
The comparisons, however, were not based on how well Darcy had
played, but on what he had played with.
All year Darcy has been battling his putter and a bad back.
Desperate for a cure, last week he was rubbed down with Tiger
Balm, a medicinal ointment from Asia, and he used a copy of the
Titleist putter that Woods carries.
The Tiger Band-Aids didn't last. Darcy followed the 66 with
rounds of 75-76-67 and he finished 11th.
O'NEAL HELPS JACKSON STATE WIN MINORITY TITLE
The last time we checked in with Jackson State (SI, May 19), the
Tigers, despite winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference
title, had been denied a bid to the NCAAs, and their star,
senior Tim O'Neal, had turned down an invitation to play as an
individual even though he was Division I's second-ranked player.
Instead, last week O'Neal helped the Tigers win their seventh
National Minority College title, at Highland Park in Cleveland.
Jackson State easily won the rain-shortened, 36-hole event,
shooting 294-294-588, 20 over par and 13 strokes better than
runner-up Tennessee State. O'Neal, who plans to attend summer
school to earn the 16 credits he needs to graduate and then
enter the Tour's Q school in the fall, finished third
individually with a one-over 72-73-145, three shots behind the
medalist, Steve Monroe, a freshman at Talladega (Ala.) College.
"Tim's decision wasn't about protesting [the fact that we didn't
get a bid] or about being disgruntled," says Jackson State coach
Eddie Payton. "It was a young man making a choice to play for
his team. And in this age, with everybody in sports saying 'Show
me the money,' for a young man to think more of his teammates
than himself is damn refreshing."
THE SHAG BAG
In 1995 caddie John (Cubby) Burke cost Brad Faxon four penalty
strokes, once by giving him a different model ball to replace
the one he had been using and another time by letting him hit
his playing partner's ball. Both actions are a breach of the
rules and carry two-shot penalties. Burke redeemed himself last
Thursday morning at the Colonial. Faxon thought his tee time was
11:45 and was lingering at the practice green at 11:35. Burke
knew Faxon's time was actually 11:40 and rushed his player to
the tee just in time to avoid another two-shot penalty. Faxon
shot 63 and went on to tie for second....Annika Sorenstam, who
leads the tour with $606,079 in official earnings this year,
added $220,000 in unofficial money by winning the LPGA Skins
Game at Stonebriar Country Club in Frisco, Texas. Sorenstam
clinched the victory over Laura Davies ($140,000), Karrie Webb
($100,000) and Dottie Pepper ($80,000) by holing a six-foot
birdie putt worth four skins and $140,000 on the 14th hole....
Bob Eastwood, 51, won the Bell Atlantic Classic at Chester
Valley Golf Club in Malvern, Pa., and became the Senior tour's
third first-time winner in '97, joining Bud Allin and David
Graham. The tour had only two first-time winners in 1996....
Greg Norman, who has played in five PGA Tour events this season,
missed both stops in Dallas-Fort Worth, the Nelson and the
Colonial, but he did play nine holes in the area on May 12.
Norman was part of a corporate outing for Bell Helicopter at
Cottonwood Valley, one of three courses which hosted the Nelson.
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN F. GRIESHOP Bowie, a senior from Texas, provided an emotional finish to the NCAA Championships. [Heather Bowie golfing]
COLOR PHOTO: ALLSPORT U.K. Happy days are here again for Ballesteros (center) and mainstays Faldo (left) and Olazabal. [Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal]
The career victories of Gary Player, who this week will be
inducted into the Memorial Tournament's Captains Club, after he
won the Daiichi Seimei Cup on Sunday in Sanmu, Japan.