Publish date:




They have each already won four tournaments and one unofficial
event this year. He has earned $891,231 on the Senior tour; she
has taken home $696,079 in LPGA prize money. Both have finished
in the top five in more than half of their starts. In a
Tigerless world their sustained excellence would have afforded
them golf's center stage. Instead, Hale Irwin and Annika
Sorenstam might as well be participants in the federal witness
protection program. "I know when I've done well," says Irwin,
who lost by one stroke to Gil Morgan at last week's Ameritech
Senior Classic outside Chicago. "Whether or not that escapes the
public's attention, I can't control that."

Since finishing 20th and 21st in a pair of tournaments in April,
Sorenstam, who began the season with three wins and six top-10
finishes in seven starts, has come on strong. Her victory last
week in the Michelob Light Classic in St. Louis was preceded by
a win at the Skins Game (worth an additional $220,000), a second
at the Titleholders and a third at the LPGA Championship, in
which a missed two-footer kept her out of a playoff. What bodes
especially ill for the rest of the LPGA is that Sorenstam has
typically not hit her stride until the U.S. Open, which she will
attempt to win for an unprecedented third straight time next
month at Pumpkin Ridge, near Portland.

Last year, in his first full season on the Senior tour, Irwin
won twice and earned more than $1.6 million. He was
disappointed, however, by his seven runner-up finishes and felt
that he would be more successful if he cut his schedule in '97.
So far, so good. After two early-season victories, he pocketed
$250,000 in the unofficial Senior Slam. In April he won
back-to-back at the PGA Seniors' and in Las Vegas and took two
weeks off at the end of May. "I've finally learned that I don't
want to play every week. It doesn't seem to enhance my
performance," says Irwin, 52.

Irwin hopes that his fortnight of rest has left him refreshed
for the rest of this month. Having won his third U.S. Open in
1990 at Medinah, he is the only Senior with a winner's exemption
into next week's championship at Congressional. And at the end
of June he will attempt to win his first U.S. Senior Open, at
Olympic Fields, Ill. "The Senior Open is really the target
tournament, but the U.S. Open has set the boundaries for my
career," he says. "I've wanted to win that tournament since I
was a kid, and I'm not ready to give up on the dream of winning
it again."


While leafing through his 1997 datebook recently, Tom Weiskopf
was amazed at how booked up he is. Ahead lie family fishing
trips, visits to the five golf courses he's designing and a
father-son tournament in December. The book contains no mention
of the June 26-29 U.S. Senior Open--or any other event on the
Senior tour.

Weiskopf, who won the '95 Senior Open, says he is through with
tour golf for this year--and maybe longer. He insists that his
reasons for staying away, though, have nothing to do with the
criticism he received for berating his playing partner Jim Stahl
Jr. for slow play and for marking his ball with a shiny coin
instead of a nonreflecting penny during last year's Senior Open
in Beachwood, Ohio. That flap led to a falling-out with the
USGA, which dropped Weiskopf as a speaker at the U.S. Junior
Amateur later that summer even though Weiskopf had apologized to

"My design business is my Number 1 priority," says Weiskopf,
who, after a season-opening ninth-place showing at the
MasterCard Championship, has not finished in the top 50 in four
starts. "I'm the busiest I've ever been. Some guys, like Jack
and Arnie, can stay competitive as players, spend time with
their families and keep up with business demands. I can't."

But since joining the Senior tour in 1993, the 54-year-old
Weiskopf has successfully juggled his designing and playing
schedules. Last year he won two events--the SBC Dominion Seniors
and the Pittsburgh Senior Classic--while unveiling what is
considered his best work, Loch Lomond Golf Club outside Glasgow.

Nonetheless, Weiskopf says he doesn't miss competing, nor is he
sure that he'll ever resume playing. During the week of the
Senior Open, he plans to go on a fishing trip with his daughter,
Heidi, in Arizona. "Who knows when I'll come back?" he says. "I
only live for today and for what I need to do tomorrow. Right
now, that does not involve playing golf."


Kathryn Marshall of Scotland always ends her practice putting
routine the same way. She stands over a five-footer, takes a
deep breath and says to herself, "This is for the U.S. Open." Or
more precisely, this is for qualifying for the Open.

Marshall, who entered last week's Michelob Light Classic
clinging to the 35th and final automatic berth in next month's
Women's Open, successfully held on to the spot by coming in
fifth. Had she finished lower than eighth, she would have been
forced to fly to Atlanta from Paris the day after the June 18-21
Evian Masters to play in the final Open qualifier.

Why is playing in the U.S. Open such a big deal to a Scot?
Because last month Marshall learned that her parents, Bob and
Addie Imrie, her sister, Mary, and her nephew, Rikki, had bought
plane tickets to Portland and planned a vacation around the July
10-13 tournament at Pumpkin Ridge. Suddenly the Atlantic looked
like a 5,000-mile water hazard. "It's not like they're going to
beat me up or disown me if I don't get in," she said on the eve
of the St. Louis tournament, "but it's a bit of a tense time. I
can hear my sister now, 'You've ruined my vacation, and you did
it intentionally.'"

Things looked grim as recently as two weeks ago, when Marshall
was 52nd on the money list. Then she had her best finish of the
season, a tie for fourth in the Corning (N.Y.) Classic. When her
parents rose at five the next morning in Dundee, a town of
175,000 in the eastern part of Scotland, to check out the
updated list on the Internet, they discovered that Kathryn had
climbed up to the 35th spot. After her strong finish last
weekend she walked immediately to a locker room telephone and
dialed her parents. Her mother answered on the first ring.

"Well?" Addie asked.

"You can enjoy your holiday now," Kathryn answered.

Even if Kathryn hadn't qualified, the Marshall clan still would
have headed to Oregon. "We would've done a bit of sightseeing
and still gone to the tournament," says Addie, "though we aren't
sure what Kathryn would've done."


Pity Sam Torrance, for whom the designation WD has become a bit
of a running joke. Last week Torrance was forced to withdraw
from the European TPC in Hamburg, Germany, after he pulled a
neck muscle getting out of bed. That was only the latest in a
series of cartoonish injuries that have beset the 43-year-old
Scot during his 23 years on the European tour. At last year's
Dubai Desert Classic, Torrance withdrew after he wrenched his
back removing his suitcase from an airport carousel. In 1995 he
missed the Italian Open after he strained his shoulder picking
his daughter up from her stroller. Then, of course, there was
the toe injury he sustained on the eve of the 1993 Ryder Cup
when he crashed into a flowerpot while sleepwalking.

These freakish accidents might sound like convenient alibis for
poor play had they occurred in the wake of early-round
meltdowns, but each injury occurred before Torrance had even hit
a ball--and after he had paid to travel to the tournament site.
"Embarrassing isn't the word for it," he said last week. "I
don't know how these things keep happening. Perhaps I should
wrap myself in cotton."


The Amy Alcott watch was on last Thursday after she shot a
four-under 68 to tie for the first-round lead in St. Louis.
Alcott is one win shy of the 30 she needs to enter the LPGA Hall
of Fame, which has only 14 members. However, Alcott, who has
been stuck on 29 wins since 1991, went 81-77 on the weekend and
finished 45th.... Remember Steve Richardson, the Englishman who
in 1991, at age 25, finished second on the European tour money
list and fifth at the PGA in his first visit to the U.S.? After
missing the cut for the 13th time in as many starts at the Volvo
PGA in Wentworth, England, two weeks ago, he decided to take an
indefinite leave from the Euro tour. "I worried myself sick
about it," Richardson says. "I feel like I've been banging my
head against a brick wall every week." ... Glen Day, an American
who played three years in Europe, on the soggy conditions at the
Memorial last Thursday: "This would be a great day in Scotland.
People would be sunbathing."

COLOR PHOTO: TOM GANNAM/AP Sorenstam's win last week in St. Louis gave her 10 LPGA victories in 23 months. [Annika Sorenstam]



For Tour rookies, the trick is playing well enough to stick
around for a second season. Of the 24-member freshman class of
'96--excluding rookie of the year Tiger Woods, a two-time winner
in his eight starts--six players kept their cards, including Tim
Herron, who won the Honda Classic. So far, three of the 26
members of the class of '97, led by Robert Damron (right), are
on course to keep their cards. Here are that class's top


Robert Damron 42 T-4th, Greensboro

You are your environment, and Damron grew up at Bay Hill in

Brent Geiberger 80 19th, Hawaii and Greensboro

Like his dad, Al, Brent's a long hitter who makes a lot of cuts
(11 of 13)

Stewart Cink 97 T-9th, Hope

The '96 Nike tour money leader has a major flaw--he's 149th in

Eric Johnson 142 12th, Nelson

At 35 he has been around, winning once in six years on the Nike

Brett Quigley 143 29th, Buick Invitational

He's the nephew of Dana Quigley, who is now playing the Senior

Doug Barron 147 19th, Hawaii

Barron has made seven cuts in 10 starts but has only one top-20

Anthony Rodriguez 187 31st, Hawaii

This 24-year-old was a two-time All-America at Texas A&M

Gabriel Hjertstedt 253 73rd, Tucson

The long-hitting Swede drives for show but can't putt for dough


Months since Jack Nicklaus last finished in the top 10 of a PGA
Tour event before tying for eighth at eight under par at the
rain-shortened Memorial.