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In two years Hale Irwin has just about done it all on the Senior
tour, winning eight tournaments--including two majors--and more
than $3.4 million. But there is at least one more mountain still
to climb. "I'd like to be one of those who can put a U.S. Open
trophy and a Senior Open trophy on his mantel," says Irwin, who
would become the seventh man to accomplish the feat if he wins
this week's Senior Open at Olympia Fields Country Club outside
Chicago. (The others are Billy Casper, Orville Moody, Jack
Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Lee Trevino.)

Irwin's mantel is already crowded. In the eight Senior majors in
which he has played since joining the tour in June '95, Irwin, a
three-time U.S. Open champion, has finished no worse than 13th
and has three seconds to go with his two wins. Last year at
Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio, he was runner-up to
Dave Stockton in the Senior Open.

The only thing that might hold Irwin back this week is his busy
schedule. In May he went into a momentary swoon while playing in
four consecutive tournaments. The Senior Open--the only Senior
event that doesn't allow players to use carts--will be Irwin's
fifth start in as many weeks. (He finished second to Graham
Marsh in last week's Nationwide Championship.) But 6,841-yard
Olympia Fields, which hosted the 1928 U.S. Open and two PGAs
(1925 and '61), is suited for Irwin's steady if unspectacular
game. The course features five-inch rough, lightning-fast greens
and narrow fairways. "You have to drive the ball straight, hit
the greens and figure out a way to make a lot of pars and some
birdies," says Irwin. "It's very simple."


Golf can be a cruel game, as 1996 PGA Tour Q school grads Adam
Mednick, Tony Mollica, Brad Sutterfield and Paul Tesori can
attest. Among the 49 Q schoolers on Tour, they are the only ones
who haven't made a cut this year--all four missed at last week's
Buick Classic--and if one of them were to finish the season
without winning a dollar on Tour, he would become the first Q
school grad to do so since Gordon Johnson in 1985.

"I can't say I'm doing all right," said Tesori, a 25-year-old
from St. Augustine, Fla., after his 81-82 at Westchester left
him dead last among the 153 players who finished 36 holes. His
playing partner, Mednick, limped in with 77-78-155, while
Mollica shot 72-77-149 and Sutterfield 75-72-147. The cut came
at 145, three over par.

This fumbling foursome's combined stats make one wonder how they
got through Q school, the six-round grind that many consider to
be the toughest tournament in golf. They have a 74.8 scoring
average and just 160 birdies--103 fewer than the Tour leader,
Paul Stankowski. Not only are they 0 for 32 in cuts made on the
regular Tour, but they've also been blanked on the Nike tour,
going 0-15. Only Mednick, a 30-year-old from Sweden, has cashed
a check this year. He's also a member of the European tour and
won $5,112 by finishing 21st at the Cannes Open in April. "I
don't have a sponsor, and we're running on fumes," says Mednick,
whose fiancee, Johanna Willcox, caddies for him. "Every week is
like a horror film playing over and over."

Mollica, 31, is still smarting after being slighted last month.
Because he was 33rd at Q school (second best of the group,
behind Mednick, who was 21st), he's well down the priority list
used by the Tour to decide who gets into events. Still, he felt
he had a good shot at a spot in the Memorial because he grew up
playing at Muirfield Village, the host club, and remains a
dues-paying member. When he wasn't invited, says Mollica, "I was
hurt, really hurt."

At Westchester, Tesori had as much trouble off the course as on
it. On Thursday night, after visiting the Empire State Building
and dining at the All-Star Cafe, Tesori and his girlfriend
boarded a subway train they thought was headed to Grand Central
Station--and got off three hours later after an underground tour
of Brooklyn. They didn't return to their hotel until 2:45 a.m.
"It seems like just yesterday I was on top of the world, making
it through Q school on my first try," says Tesori, who, along
with Mednick, Mollica and Sutterfield, will play in this week's
St. Jude Classic in Memphis. "Now that feels so far away. This
is the lowest point in my career. But there is one positive
thing I can say: It can't get any worse."


Bob Gilder was lounging in the locker room at the Westchester
Country Club last Friday when he was asked about one of the most
dramatic shots in Tour history. Fifteen years ago, during the
third round of the Westchester Classic, Gilder had driven into
the fairway and was 251 yards from the hole on the 509-yard,
par-5 18th. He was 15 under par and led the tournament by three

Gilder took a ferocious swing with his three-wood, and his ball
flew 240 yards, landed on the fringe and took three bounces
before rolling into the cup for a double-eagle, one of the
rarest shots in golf. (Last year there was only one on Tour, by
Guy Hill at the Canadian Open.) As Gilder pumped his fists,
CBS's Ken Venturi, in the TV tower behind the green, yelled,
"Absolutely phenomenal. You've witnessed something that you'll
probably never see again." Gilder shot 65 that day, 69 the next
and won by five shots. His 19-under 261 is the lowest winning
score--by seven strokes--in the event's 31-year history.

A middle-aged man, evidently a club member, came up to Gilder
while he recounted the story last week, and he said, "Bob, I've
been trying to hit that shot for 15 years and haven't come close."

"Neither have I," said Gilder.

Gilder, 46, hasn't done anything to cheer about lately. He lost
his Tour card two years ago, didn't get it back last year and
this season is playing mainly on the Nike tour. (Westchester was
one of only four regular Tour events on his '97 schedule.)
Gilder won six times and earned more than $2.7 million during
his 21-year Tour career but has struggled in the minors.
Battling the yips, he's 36th on the Nike money list.

Gilder's career headed south shortly after his three-victory
season in '82, when he was sixth on the money list. In 1983 he
won for the last time, at the Phoenix Open, and began to tinker
with his swing. He was also an outspoken, and fined, critic of
Tour commissioner Deane Beman. Later, Gilder sided with Karsten
Manufacturing in its square-grooves lawsuit against the Tour and
was ostracized by most of his peers.

But Gilder wants to put his controversial past behind him. He
finished 27th last week and headed back to the Nike tour
confident about his future. "I used to vent my frustrations on
others," he says. "Over time, though, I've learned that there's
nobody to blame but yourself. This is a performance-oriented
tour. If you don't perform, you don't belong. I know I'll be
back because I can still perform."


In January things looked grim for Spanish golf fans. Seve
Ballesteros remained in a slump, Jose Maria Olazabal was laid up
with a severe foot ailment, and no other Spaniard was among the
top 10 on Europe's Ryder Cup points list. Would Spain host its
first Ryder Cup, in September at Valderrama, without a native in
the competition?

After last week's German Open in Stuttgart, the situation had
changed considerably. Although Ballesteros, the European
captain, hasn't returned to form, Olazabal has come roaring back
from the dead and now, at 11th on the points list, should be a
captain's selection if he doesn't make the team outright.
Meanwhile Miguel Angel Martin has rediscovered his game, which
had been dormant for the last few years, and he now stands sixth
in points.

Spain got more good news in Stuttgart, where 25-year-old Ignacio
Garrido won his first European title and vaulted to 13th in the
standings, which means that there could be three Spaniards
playing at Valderrama. "Right now I want to savor this win with
my family; then I might start to think about what I must to do
to make the Ryder Cup," said Garrido, whose father, Antonio, and
Ballesteros were the first two Continental players to compete in
the match, in 1979.


Penny Hammel lost interest in golf in 1992 when her brother Lee
died of AIDS-related complications, and from '92 to '95 she
never cracked the top 100 on the LPGA money list. Last week the
35-year-old Hammel won her first tournament in six years, and
the fourth of her 13-year career, at the Rochester (N.Y.)
International, by one shot over defending champion Dottie
Pepper....Brad Elder of the University of Texas, the 1997
college player of the year and NCAA runner-up, won the
prestigious Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club in
Rumford, R.I., on Sunday. On July 1, Elder is expected to be one
of the eight amateurs named to the U.S. Walker Cup team that
will meet the Great Britain and Ireland squad Aug. 9-10 at
Quaker Ridge, in Scarsdale, N.Y.... The day after finishing 17th
at the Nationwide Championship, in Alpharetta, Ga., Jim Colbert
underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer at Scripps
Hospital in La Jolla, Calif. Colbert, 56, is a two-time Senior
tour player of the year.... Jo Jo Robertson, 21 and a senior at
Oklahoma State, won her second U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links
title in the last three years by beating Angie Yoon of San Diego
3 and 2 at the Center Square (Pa.) Golf Club.... Graham Marsh's
victory at the Nationwide Championship was the 60th title of his
career. His wins have come on five circuits: Japan (24 wins),
Europe (15), Australia (16), the PGA Tour (1) and the Senior
tour (4).

COLOR PHOTO: JACQUELINE DUVOISIN Irwin is bent on a career double: a Senior crown to go with his three Open titles. [Hale Irwin golfing]

COLOR PHOTO: BOB MARTIN [Arnold Palmer golfing]


Johnny Miller says that because he has played so infrequently
this year, his expectations will be low when he makes his Senior
tour debut July 25-27 in the Franklin Quest Championship at Park
City, Utah. But if Miller follows in the footsteps of the nine
other Senior golfers in the Hall of Fame, he should do well. All
the others finished in the top 10 in their Senior debuts, and
three of them, including Arnold Palmer (left), won.

Player Senior Wins First Event Finish

JACK NICKLAUS 10 '90 Tradition 1st
ARNOLD PALMER 10 '80 PGA Seniors 1st
GARY PLAYER 18 '85 Quadel Senior Classic 1st
GENE LITTLER 8 '81 Peter Jackson Champions 2nd
HALE IRWIN 8 '95 BellSouth Classic T-4th
CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ 22 '85 Quadel Senior Classic T-5th
RAY FLOYD 13 '92 Bank One Classic T-6th
LEE TREVINO 27 '89 GTE Kaanapali Classic T-7th
BILLY CASPER 8 '81 Marlboro Classic T-10th

The Number

The total strokes by which Ernie Els beat Tiger Woods during the
past two weeks while winning the U.S. Open and Buick Classic.