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Original Issue


The golf season has reached the halfway point, and believe it or
not, there have been many noteworthy happenings that have
nothing to do with Tiger Woods. So put aside those
orange-and-black-striped periscopes for a moment and take a look
at what else has been going on.

What's the big deal about Woods's having four wins in 19 Tour
events since turning pro last August? Annika Sorenstam has four
wins in 12 LPGA starts this year--five of 13 if you count the
LPGA Skins Game, not that anybody does. Sorenstam hasn't gotten
a whole lot of attention, but that could change July 10-13 when
she goes for an unprecedented third straight U.S. Open title at
Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside Portland.

We all know that the Senior tour has turned into a two-horse
race between Hale Irwin (four wins this year; five if you count
the Senior Slam, not that anybody does) and Gil Morgan (three
wins), the licensed optometrist from Edmond, Okla. What's
surprising is who has been left in the gate. It appears that the
curtain is falling on the competitive careers of former Senior
stalwarts such as Jim Colbert (age 56, zero wins), Raymond Floyd
(54, zero) and Dave Stockton (55, zero).

You can already mark down 1997 as the Year of the Comeback.
Start with Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain. Sidelined for 18 months
by a painful foot ailment that at one point had his agent
inquiring whether it would be O.K. for Ollie to ride a pony when
he played, Olazabal won the Turespana Masters in March and now's
a lock to make the European Ryder Cup team, a huge turnaround
considering the rumors last year that his career was over.

Ollie's comeback was only part of the turnaround of the European
team, which has gone--almost overnight--from heavy underdog to
pick 'em for September's big match at Valderrama on the southern
coast of Spain. Besides Olazabal, Ryder Cup regulars Bernhard
Langer and Ian Woosnam have recently rediscovered their games,
too, which means Seve Ballesteros may be able to use his two
captain's selections on marquee golfers who play the U.S. Tour
full time and would not otherwise make the team, Nick Faldo and
Jesper Parnevik. With a potential mix of old favorites and young
up-and-comers such as Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood, plus the
home-course advantage, the European team suddenly looks

The big news for captain Tom Kite's U.S. side has been the fine
play of...Tom Kite. He was second at the Masters, has had two
other top-10 finishes and could make the team on points. But
even if he doesn't, Kite, who has a sterling 15-9-4 record in
seven Ryder Cups, would be wise to look in the mirror for one of
his wild-card picks. Selecting himself would not only be a
stunning move but might also prove to be a shrewd one,
considering the potential for a relatively inexperienced U.S.
team. Kite would be the first American playing captain since
Arnold Palmer in 1963.

John Daly came back from a two-month return trip to alcohol
rehab, this time at the Betty Ford Center in Palm Springs,
Calif., with a new endorsement contract with Callaway that
requires him to regularly attend support-group meetings. Now he
needs to start working on another bad habit: not finishing what
he starts. After making the cut in the Memorial and the Kemper
Open, Daly fell out of contention on Saturday and then mailed it
in on Sunday, shooting uninterested rounds of 80 and finishing
last in both tournaments. When he saw that he couldn't make the
cut at the U.S. Open, he quit midway through the second round
and abruptly left the course.

It only seemed that Nick Price was gone. The No. 1 player in the
world for 43 weeks in 1994-95 and the winner of three majors,
Price went 31 months without a Tour victory, though he contended
on several occasions and never fell below 50th on the money
list. He ended the dry spell in April at Hilton Head and has
climbed back to No. 5. More important, if voting for player of
the decade were done tomorrow, he would win hands down.

Comebacks have been common on the LPGA too. Early in the season
Terry-Jo Myers overcame a painful bladder disease, interstitial
cystitis, that at one point had her contemplating suicide, to
win for the first time in nine years, at the Los Angeles Women's
Championship. Three months later she won again, in the Sara Lee
Classic, and now there's talk of a made-for-TV movie. Turning 40
was the best thing to happen to Nancy Lopez in years. Motivated
to become stronger and fitter, Lopez dropped 40 pounds and is
swinging like a Hall of Famer again. She won for the 48th time,
at the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship in April and promptly
revealed that she intends to lose 15 more pounds. Her loss is
women's golf's gain.

A slew of comers has already been identified in 1997. We first
noticed Paul Stankowski a little more than a year ago when he
won the Nike Louisiana Open, then really took notice a week
later when he won the BellSouth Classic on the big Tour to earn
the final spot in the '96 Masters. Stankowski got off to a fast
start this season by winning the Hawaiian Open, and he hasn't
let up. No one has been in contention more often in '97. He has
finished 14th or better 11 times in 19 starts and gone from
nowhere to 12th on the Ryder Cup list.

Stankowski could be joined on the team by another first-timer,
Tommy Tolles of tiny Flat Rock, N.C. Although he's still looking
for his first Tour win, Tolles has had so many high
finishes--seven times he has been among the top seven this
year--he ranks sixth in Ryder Cup points.

How has Scott McCarron avoided the limelight? Not only did he
win his second Tour title this year, the BellSouth, but he also
ranks second to Woods in driving distance. (McCarron's average
drive goes 284.7 yards; Woods's 292.8) There are a couple of
other things that make the 31-year-old McCarron unique: He gave
up the game for a couple of years, and he's the only player to
win a Tour event this year using a long putter.

The Australians on Tour have always been newsmakers, but this
year their story lines have taken a different twist. Instead of
wondering about Greg Norman's chances in the majors, we wonder
when he'll make the cut in one. Although he took the Andersen
Consulting World Championship title in January, Norman hasn't
won a stroke-play event in 15 months. Indeed, long-hitting
Stuart Appleby, in only his second year on Tour, and veteran
Steve Elkington have had a bigger impact on the season to this
point. Appleby won the Honda Classic in March and was second a
week later at Bay Hill, while Elkington has had two high-profile
victories, at Doral and the Players Championship, in which he
routed the strongest field of the year.

Who was the man to beat at the start of the season? Who was the
man who tamed Tiger while winning back-to-back in February?
That's right, you need a good memory to recall that Mark O'Meara
was once the top dog of '97. O'Meara has a history of fast
starts and summer fades, although this year he has come up with
a couple of top 10s in his 10 starts since the Tour left the
West Coast.

You want anonymous? U.S. Open champion Steve Jones gets
recognized as often as the kid who played Pugsley on The Addams
Family. All Jones has done this year is nearly match Mike
Souchak's record score (27-under-par 257 in the '55 Texas Open)
when he shot 26-under 258 to nip Parnevik, the runner-up, by
nine shots in the Phoenix Open.

Thankfully, some things never change. Jack Nicklaus looked all
washed up early in the year when he missed two cuts in regular
Tour events and was 23rd in the GTE Classic on the Senior tour.
Then, behold, the Golden Bear lives! Three weeks ago Nicklaus
had his first top-10 finish (eighth) on Tour in 29 months, in
his own Memorial Tournament. That has him thinking about playing
in next month's British Open at Royal Troon, which would make it
about Jack's seventh straight last-ever appearance in the
world's oldest major. Yeah? Wait till next year.

That's the view from the U.S. Open, where the '97 season doesn't
look half bad now that it's half over.

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATIONS BY PATRICK MILBOURN Woods got the lion's share of the attention during the first half of the season, but also starring were (from left) Irwin, Olazabal, Stankowski, Elkington and Sorenstam. [Drawing of Hale Irwin, Jose Maria Olazabal, Paul Stankowski, Steve Elkington and Annika Sorenstam with crowd watching Tiger Woods in background]

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATIONS BY PATRICK MILBOURN [Drawing of Brad Faxon and Steve Stricker climbing ladder]

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATIONS BY PATRICK MILBOURN [Drawing of Gil Morgan with pockets full of money]


The projected makeup of the 12-man U.S. Ryder Cup team has
changed markedly during the first six months of '97, partly
because double points are awarded for top-10 finishes during the
year of the match. More significant, though, is the play of
certain Tour pros. Some who started the year down in the
standings, like Brad Faxon (right, top), are surging upward,
while a few who appeared to be locks, like Steve Stricker
(below), are headed in the other direction.


1 TOM LEHMAN 1,016.286 1
2 TIGER WOODS 1,015.000 14
3 MARK O'MEARA 801.250 6
4 BRAD FAXON 727.500 15
5 SCOTT HOCH 711.946 5
6 TOMMY TOLLES 689.285 13
7 PHIL MICKELSON 659.286 3
8 DAVIS LOVE III 638.500 4
9 STEVE JONES 579.280 10
10 JIM FURYK 572.500 22
11 MARK BROOKS 549.750 2
12 PAUL STANKOWSKI 492.500 32
14 JUSTIN LEONARD 473.500 11
17 FRED COUPLES 398.040 12
19 KENNY PERRY 371.250 8
23 STEVE STRICKER 342.500 7


What price victory? For pro golfers in the U.S., that depends on
which tour you play. Annika Sorenstam has won four times on the
LPGA in 1997 but has earned $253,263 less than Gil Morgan
(right), the optometrist who has three victories on the Senior
tour this season. Here's how the leading money winners on the
three U.S. tours stack up.


1 TIGER WOODS PGA 3 $1,396,466
3 BRAD FAXON PGA 1 983,876
6 MARK O'MEARA PGA 2 927,609
7 SCOTT HOCH PGA 0 847,798
9 NICK PRICE PGA 1 794,357
12 JIM FURYK PGA 1 689,903
13 ERNIE ELS PGA 1 689,055
14 TOM LEHMAN PGA 0 675,181
15 ISAO AOKI SENIOR 0 614,729