THE PLAYOFF THAT WOULDN'T DIE
In case you missed it--and you surely did--David Graham and Dave
Stockton engaged in a 10-hole playoff on Sunday, the longest in
Senior tour history, before Graham emerged the winner in the
Royal Caribbean Classic in Key Biscayne, Fla. ESPN presented
taped coverage of the event but understandably could show only
highlights of the nearly two-hour overtime.
Graham brought about the playoff by birdieing the final three
holes of regulation. He and Stockton played 18 again, and when
both parred it, they began a 16-18 rotation. With a chance to
win on the second playoff hole, Graham missed a four-foot birdie
putt but then staved off defeat on the next hole by saving par
from the same distance. Minutes later, back at 18, he appeared a
sure winner when his approach stopped two feet from the pin,
while Stockton was in the rough off the green. But Stockton
chipped in, and on they went.
Darkness was fast approaching when the two came to the 18th hole
for the fifth time. Again Graham knocked his approach stiff, and
again Stockton was off the green, but this time he failed to
chip in. Game, set and match.
Almost lost in the excitement was Lee Trevino's third-place
finish. Life for Trevino the last couple of years has been an
uphill par-7. He has won only once since 1995, in the Emerald
Coast Classic 18 months ago. In Key Biscayne, he was in
contention until the final four holes, but he failed to birdie
the relatively easy par-5 15th, then bogied 16 when he missed a
five-foot putt. He finished two strokes behind Graham and
Stockton, but even so, he was elated.
"I haven't played this well in two years," Trevino said after
shooting a second-round 65, the low score of the day. "It had
gotten so bad I didn't know where the shots were going."
Trevino, who won 27 tournaments on the PGA Tour, has won 27 more
as a Senior. Don't bet against his winning number 28 sometime
They're Having a Super Time at the Supers' Show
Looking for a chance to take a seminar on advanced weed
management or localized dry spots or protecting natural
resources on the golf course? They are among the 85 (15 of them
new) offered at the 69th Golf Course Superintendents Association
of America International Conference and Show, which opened on
Monday for a weeklong run at the Anaheim Convention Center. If
you can't make it to the show in person, and more than 22,000
are expected to be on hand, check out the association's trivia
tour on the Internet at www.gcsaa.org and bring new meaning to
surf and turf.
Some of the top male collegiate golfers in the country hope
their games go south at the Feb. 5-6 International
Intercollegiate in Monterrey, Mexico. The event, hosted by Rice
University, will include top talent such as Brigham Young,
ranked 17th in the nation, San Jose State and SMU. Monterrey is
only one of the exotic locales on the road to Albuquerque and
the 101st NCAA Championships in May. Upcoming tournament sites
include Waikoloa, Hawaii (the Feb. 13-14 Big Island
Intercollegiate); Oahu, Hawaii (the Feb. 18-20 John A. Burns
Intercollegiate); and San Juan (the Feb. 23-24 Puerto Rico
Collegiate Classic). Add them all up and you see why, according
to a study on Division I sports, golfers miss more classtime
than any other student-athletes except baseball players.
THE SHAG BAG
Off the Mark: Tiger Woods was delighted last week when Tour
officials at Pebble Beach said yes to his request to play in the
same foursome as buddy Mark O'Meara, winner of the AT&T a record
five times. "I need to see how you do it," Woods said to O'Meara
before the tournament. "You've got five; maybe I can get one."
Sure, pal. In the rain-shortened opening round, O'Meara,
starting on the 10th hole at Poppy Hills, made a double-bogey 7
after blading a bunker shot OB. He bogeyed 11, 15, 16 and 17 and
slogged home with a 42, his worst nine-hole score ever in the
event. O'Meara finished the two-day round with a 76, and Woods,
ever the obedient student, matched him. Fuzzy Feeling: Fuzzy
Zoeller had a rough 1997 after telling the joke heard round the
golf world at the Masters and then leading the Tour in
apologies, but he has rebounded nicely in '98. Zoeller, who
missed the cut in five of his last six starts in '97, tied for
eighth at the Bob Hope and has signed endorsement contracts with
apparel maker Sport-Haley and, last week, clubmaker Daiwa. Now
the Golf Channel has begun editing footage from a recent
interview with Fuzzy that hits topics from Augusta to Zoeller.
The 30-minute profile is scheduled to air April 7, two days
before the Masters. Tee Formation: What's the best thing about
being selected for the Pro Bowl? For many NFL players, it's the
week of free golf in Hawaii. "When you're named to the team,
your first reaction is, 'I'm going to play golf,'" says Bruce
Smith, the Buffalo Bills' defensive lineman who on Sunday played
in his 10th Pro Bowl. "The first thing you pack are your golf
clubs, and that's the first thing you pick up at baggage claim."
Hard Feelings: Anybody who watched the '96 Masters knows that
Greg Norman is well aware of what it's like to get beaten up on
a golf course. Now the Shark wants to put that knowledge to use.
Norman hopes to build the hardest course in the world. "I'd love
to do it," he says. "Golfers love to be punished." Golfing for
the Gold: The next time somebody says golf's not a sport, just
tell him that Michele Taggart, a former winner of the world
snowboarding championships and a contender to win the gold medal
in Nagano, cross-trains by playing golf. Masters Grrreen: Thomas
Bjorn of Denmark is seeing red after learning that he's the only
player from the two 1997 Ryder Cup teams who didn't rate an
invitation to this year's Masters. Said Bjorn, who won the
European tour's Heineken Classic in Australia on Sunday, "That's
my message to Augusta. I wanted to show I can play and belong at
the Masters." A Ballsy Move: Top-Flite surprised everyone at the
PGA Show when it introducing two balls designed to be used
specifically with drivers manufactured by two of the company's
competitors, Callaway and Taylor Made.
WATCH OUT FOR GOLF'S EDISON
Inventor Tony Antonious has received nearly 400 patents for golf
gizmos--putters, irons, woods, shoes, bags, tees, even a cap
that he claims prevents headaches. "He's the hero of every
basement tinkerer hoping to fund his retirement with the next
great invention," says one equipment manufacturer.
"Don't go to court with him," warns another. "He'll kill you."
A ubiquitous presence at shindigs like last week's PGA
Merchandise Show, where he relentlessly hawks his wares,
Antonious is best known for a glove he invented in 1967. His
masterstroke was literally a finishing touch: the glove's
adjustable closing mechanism. "I bought some Velcro and my wife,
Sarah, sewed it onto the backs of some gloves," he says. Pros
scoffed at the result, but when Antonious placed ads in golf
magazines, orders flooded in. He quit his job as an accountant
to try to become golf's Thomas Edison. "It was a bold move, but
I believed in the security of a U.S. patent," he says. "Little
did I realize it's not that secure."
Antonious rails at the fact that U.S. corporations often get
away with stealing ideas from men like him--inventors too poor
to defend their rights in court. But here was a little guy who
had a big appetite for legal battle. He launched lawsuits
against Spalding, Wilson and 13 other companies that added
Velcro to their golf gloves without paying him royalties. Seven
settled out of court. Eight went to trial and he beat them all
and ultimately emerged a multimillionaire.
Yet even in triumph he fights a reputation for eccentricity. "I
am no kook," Antonious insists. Sure, he speaks five languages,
has a right leg that's an inch shorter than his left (the result
of a 1934 motorcycle wreck) and keeps his address a secret.
Next on the Antonious docket: a courtroom battle with Spalding
over the design of the company's Top-Flite Tour irons and
Intimidator driver--stolen from him, he claims. "I have hurt no
one and taken nothing that wasn't rightfully mine," says the
80-year-old Velcro man, who has been battling prostate cancer
since 1988 and now has one more major goal: "Ultimate peace of
mind! I haven't reached it yet, but I'm getting close."
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK Bad sign The numbers told the sad stories of O'Meara and Woods. [Leader board]
COLOR PHOTO: WALTER P. CALAHAN MR. VELCRO Antonious gets a royalty on most golf gloves sold. [Tony Antonious]
Holes contested in the longest playoff in PGA Tour history,
after which Cary Middlecoff and Lloyd Mangrum were named
cowinners of the '49 Motor City Open.
What do these players have in common?
Their first professional victory was the U.S. Open.