Filling the Soft Spot
All's usually quiet on the Tour from the end of the Masters to
the start of the U.S. Open. It's a soft spot on the schedule, 66
days this year, in which Tiger Woods disappears for three weeks
at a time, and so can our interest. Thanks to Stuart Appleby,
then, for giving us a thrill. Houston's no major, and it wasn't
Appleby's first win since the death of his wife, Renay, but his
victory meant a little more than your average W, especially
these days. This was one we could feel.
PGA Appleby became the seventh player born outside the U.S., and
the fourth member of the '98 International Presidents Cup team,
to win on Tour this year when he beat John Cook and Hal Sutton
by one.... Appleby is also the sixth player in the last 10 weeks
to win after missing the cut in his previous start (Masters)....
Mark Weibe hadn't made a cut this year, missing eight straight,
before finishing 18th in the MCI Classic, 57th at Greensboro and
fourth at The Woodlands.... Steve Elkington, who shot a 65 on
Saturday to move into a tie for ninth, withdrew that night after
being hospitalized with viral meningitis, which he has fought
off twice in the past.... Jack Nicklaus says he will play in his
Memorial tournament, June 3-6, even though he is not completely
recovered from hip-replacement surgery.
LPGA Rachel Hetherington, who won the City of Hope Myrtle Beach
(S.C.) Classic by a stroke over Helen Alfredsson, Leta Lindley
and Karrie Webb, has three victories in the last seven
months--as many as fellow Aussie Webb.... Webb still hasn't
finished worse than eighth this season in eight starts. The
record for top 10 finishes in a calendar year is 25 by Judy
Rankin in 1973.... The City of Hope was the first tournament to
be reduced to 36 holes since last year's Los Angeles Women's
Championship, won by Dale Eggeling.
SENIOR Larry Nelson edged Dana Quigley by one stroke and Gil
Morgan by two at the Bruno's Memorial Classic in Birmingham and
has five wins over the last 15 months, as many as Morgan and two
fewer than Hale Irwin.
ALSO Steve Gotsche picked up his second Nike tour win of the
year, at the Upstate Classic in Greenville, S.C. Gotsche, who
beat Sam Randolph by two strokes, also won the Monterrey
(Mexico) Open in March.... Casey Martin has missed five of nine
cuts on the Nike tour and is 40th on the money list.... Seve
Ballesteros shot a final-round 67 at the Italian Open--won by
Scotland's Dean Robertson--and finished 17th, his best showing
since the '98 Dubai Desert Classic, in which he came in 10th.
UP and Down
Stuart Appleby Steve Elkington
Rachel Hetherington Karrie Webb
Compaq Classic Entergy Classic
Miller Barber Johnny Miller
Talladega 500 Bruno's Memorial
COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY DARREN CARROLL Mad dash In Houston, Frank Lickliter struck a blow for hacked-off hackers everywhere.