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Closing Time When they get near the lead, guys like Lee Janzen shut down the competition

In baseball, closers stop rallies and save games. In golf, they
stop rallies and save themselves from the pain Payne Stewart
suffered at the U.S. Open. Never known as a safe bet on
Sundays--he was nicknamed Avis early in his career--Stewart let
a four-stroke lead slip away in the last round at the Olympic
Club. He lost in the bottom of the ninth to Lee Janzen, one of
golf's dominant closers.

Statistics show just how good a money player Janzen is. SI took
all Tour players with a minimum of 10 top three finishes and
divided their wins by their top threes to come up with a stat
we'll call Closing Average. Janzen's CA going in was .467,
seventh among active pros and better than that of any of the top
10 players on the leader board at Olympic. Clearly, the numbers
were against Stewart on Sunday. Despite his nine victories,
including the 1989 PGA and the '91 U.S. Open, Stewart's career
CA is a mere .184. The chart below shows the best and worst
closers on the PGA Tour, with Janzen near the top and Stewart
close to the bottom.

Jeff Maggert made a run at the Open leaders last week, but as
you would expect from his .050 CA, he fell short and tied for
seventh. It was Maggert's seventh top 10 finish in a major, but
he has yet to win one. The Tour's alltime record for futility,
however, belongs to Fred Hawkins. Between 1947 and '65, Hawkins
had 19 seconds, 12 thirds and just one win, at the 1956 Oklahoma
City Open, for a CA of .031.

At the other end of the spectrum stands Phil Mickelson, whose
career CA is .600. That's double the Tour average of .300 and
far above the career numbers of Arnold Palmer (.480), Ben Hogan
(.453) and Jack Nicklaus (.432). "When you're in contention on
Sunday, there's only one thought you can have: Get the job
done," Mickelson says of the closer mentality. "It's a reckless,
do-whatever-it-takes approach, totally different from what you
need in the first three rounds. Before Sunday you're just being
patient, playing for position. In the last round, though, it's
go for broke. You absolutely have to look at the leader board.
You need to know where you stand, and if somebody makes a birdie
run, you've got to catch him."

--Rick Lipsey


1. Phil Mickelson 12 3 20 .600
2. Steve Jones 7 3 13 .538
3. Ernie Els 6 4 12 .500
Lee Janzen 8 5 16 .500
Vijay Singh 5 5 10 .500
Tiger Woods 7 3 14 .500
57. Payne Stewart 9 22 49 .184
67. Tom Byrum 1 5 11 .091
Mike Reid 2 7 22 .091
69. Duffy Waldorf 1 7 12 .08
70. Russ Cochran 1 8 13 .077
71. Jeff Maggert 1 12 20 .050

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER Finishing touch Thanks to his talent down the stretch, Janzen had a blast at the Open. [Lee Janzen]

Going Steady

You needn't excel in all areas to win the U.S. Open, you just
need to do pretty well in most of them. You can even finish last
in one. Here is how Lee Janzen's performance at the Olympic Club
compared with those of the other statistical leaders.

1. John Daly 295.6
11. Lee Janzen 281.3

1. Steve Stricker 73.2
3. Janzen 71.4

1. Paul Azinger 1.686
6. Janzen 1.740

1. Janzen 69.4

1. Tom Lehman 100.0%
59. Janzen 0.0%

Meet the Prez
The race to join the U.S. Presidents Cup team, which will defend
its title Dec. 11-13 in Melbourne, is heating up. Tour players
get a point for each dollar earned from the '97 Mercedes through
the '98 Tour Championship. Here are the leading candidates.

David Duval 4,977,207
Tiger Woods 4,272,966
Justin Leonard 3,949,696
Jim Furyk 3,793,937
Fred Couples 3,419,481


The Number

Tiger Woods's putting rank at the U.S. Open. Woods finished last
in putting among those who made the cut, tied with James M.