A Numerologist's 1999
We're struck by numbers in '99. Hawaii, the 50th state, has two
PGA Tour events while Massachusetts, one of the first, has none.
The three U.S. tours will pay out almost $218 mil this year. On
the men's circuit, purses have risen so fast (see chart, page
G6) that winning caddies will make more than winning pros did
six years ago. Tom Kite, Lanny Wadkins and Tom Watson turn 50
this season, so the days of the firm of Irwin & Morgan are
numbered. Not so the days of David Duval, who has eight wins in
his last 27 starts. Will he become golf's first $3 million man
in '99? Yes, and go right on to $4 million.
PGA Duval's nine-stroke margin of victory at the Mercedes
Championships was way short of the Tour record. Johnny Miller
won the '75 Phoenix Open by 14.... Fifteen Tour pros, including
John Cook, Jim Furyk, Jesper Parnevik and Scott Simpson, will
appear on Wheel of Fortune during February sweeps.... Tour
Players Association president Danny Edwards says the fledgling
union will hold its next meeting on Jan. 26 at the Phoenix Open.
LPGA The fact that Annika Sorenstam and her husband, David Esch,
have moved from Nevada to Lake Nona, Fla., is good news for the
tour. Starting with this week's Inaugural, in Orlando, Sorenstam
will play in the first two events of '99, both in her new home
state.... During the murder trial of Lauri Merten's
brother-in-law, Thomas Capano, in Wilmington, Del., a defense
witness testified that the '93 U.S. Open champ attacked her
husband Louis's Mercedes with a golf club. L. Vincent Ramunno
testified that Merten's husband was under investigation for
insurance fraud for claiming that Merten had had an accident
when in fact she had damaged the car after finding her husband
with another woman. Lawyers for Merten and Louis Capano refuted
Ramunno's allegation.... Se Ri Pak has given up her beagle,
Happy, her inseparable companion during her rookie year.
SENIOR Jim Thorpe is hanging out on the Nike tour--he shot 69-78
to miss the cut by a shot at the South Florida Classic at Pompano
Beach, which was won by Curt Byrum--until he turns 50 on Feb. 1.
"My first career was a learning stage," he says. "My second was
at the horse track. Now my third career starts in a couple of
weeks," at the first full-field event of '99, the Feb. 5-7 Royal
Caribbean Classic in Key Biscayne, Fla.
ALSO U.S. Amateur champ Hank Kuehne shot a seven-under-par 20 on
the par-3 course at Augusta National last month to tie the
record held there by Gay Brewer and Art Wall.... Robin Yount
made news last week. He joined a list of first-time celebs at
the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am that also includes Michael
Bolton, Ken Griffey Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson. Oh, Yount was
also elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT BECKBomb squad Tiger Woods & Co. faced a lot of monsters on the 7,263-yard, par-73 Plantation Course at Kapalua, such as the 484-yard par-4 7th (above).