It wasn't the best result when coleader Marilyn Lovander shot a
three-over-par 75 in the second round of last week's areaWeb.Com
Challenge at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton, Mass. An 81
would have been better, because then Lovander would've missed
Welcome to the strange union of the LPGA and Futures tours.
Going into the week, Lovander topped the Futures money list and
seemed a lock to end the season in the top three, thereby
earning her LPGA card for 2000. Naturally, she wanted to protect
her lead by playing in the Briarwood Futures Open in York, Pa.
Sorry. Under LPGA rules Lovander, a nonexempt LPGA member,
couldn't say no when she was summoned to fill out a weak field
in Sutton. Here's the catch: No player who earns $25,000 or more
on the LPGA circuit is eligible for the Futures tour, meaning
Lovander, had she kept going low after her opening 66 at
Pleasant Valley, could have played her way right out of her best
shot at getting an LPGA card for next year.
"My hands were tied," said Lovander, who would have been Futures
history had she finished in the top eight (she was 23rd). "I had
to play here or get fined."
Lovander's dilemma highlights how poorly constructed the
alliance between the two tours is. The pact went into effect
last January when the Futures paid $200,000 to become the feeder
circuit of the LPGA. Unlike the PGA and Nike tours, the LPGA and
Futures are not run by the same organization, and thus the two
tours can pull players in opposite directions. Asked about the
$25,000 cap, LPGA deputy commissioner Jim Webb said, "That's the
Futures tour rule, not our rule." When Futures spokeswoman Tracy
Kerdyk commented on Lovander's commitment in Sutton, she cited
the LPGA's conflicting event rule and said, "That's not our
problem. You need to talk to Jim Webb and the LPGA."
The lack of harmony between the tours has infuriated players
caught in the middle. Katie Peterson, another nonexempt LPGA
member, wanted to play the Futures this year, but couldn't get
into tournaments. She learned the hard way that, unlike the PGA
Tour, the LPGA cannot exempt its Q school finalists--Peterson
finished 44th--onto its minor league tour. "The LPGA sold out
its players for $200,000," Peterson says. "Marilyn's situation
is a perfect example of how the LPGA didn't think out this union
with the Futures tour."
While at Pleasant Valley, Lovander lost the top spot on the
Futures money list to Grace Park. But going into this week's
Betty Puskar Morgantown Futures Classic, the final event of '99
before the three LPGA exemptions are distributed, Lovander is
still $3,644 ahead of No. 3 Elizabeth Bowman and $3,896 clear of
No. 4 Eunice Choi. She should make the LPGA tour in 2000,
despite the hindrance of playing on it in 1999.
Holy Holes in One!
ACES COMING BY THE BUCKET
It seemed impressive when five players made holes in one at the
du Maurier Classic, three at the Canon Greater Hartford Open and
two, on back-to-back shots, at the CVS Charity Classic--all two
weeks ago within a span of five days. The most stunning holes in
one, though, came not at a tour event but during the Women's
Westchester and Fairfield County Golf Association match-play
championship at Waccabuc (N.Y.) Country Club.
Donna Lesser, a 67-year-old with an 11 handicap, was 3 up on
Buffy Ogden when the two came to the 118-yard 7th hole. Lesser
pulled out a five-iron, hit and watched as the ball bounced
twice and went in the jar. "Well, I guess I don't have to hit,"
Ogden said. "Of course you do," Lesser replied. "Yours could go
When Ogden, an 18 handicapper, obliged and let fly, her
seven-wood shot also found the hole--a 13,500-to-1 shot after a
13,500-to-1 shot. Lesser and Ogden are now semicelebrities, news
of the weird variety, at their home clubs. "I'm not used to all
this attention," says Lesser, who won one up. "I said to
somebody I was going to call Tiger [Woods] to see how he handles
COLOR PHOTO: EZRA SHAW Irony play Lovander would have been better off playing worse.
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BAKER PHOTOGRAPHY
COLOR PHOTO: STEVE KINDERMAN
COLOR PHOTO: BRECK SMITHER
What do these players have in common?
They're the only players among the top 15 in the U.S. Ryder Cup
standings to have won a medal event this year. (Jeff Maggert,
No. 10, won the World Match Play.) Eight of the top 15 Europeans
have won in '99.
Should the pros be paid to play in the Ryder Cup?
--Based on 438 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Did last week's prime-time made-for-TV exhibition
match between Tiger Woods and David Duval exceed, meet or fail
to meet your expectations? Vote at golfplus.cnnsi.com.
With 12 tournaments remaining, LPGA tour players, who made five
aces at the du Maurier Classic two weeks ago and one at the
areaWeb.Com Challenge last week, have nearly matched their
circuit's single-season record for holes in one (29). Here are
the one-year highs for the five major tours and how many holes
in one have been made on each this season.
TOUR RECORD YEAR '99
PGA 44 1994 18
LPGA 29 '97 27
European 32 '90 23
Senior 18 '92 6
Nike 24 '97 13
Tyler Cundith, Overland Park, Kans.
Cundith, 34, made a hole in one on a par-5, the 488-yard 6th
hole at Oak Country Golf Course. Cundith drove 325 yards over
trees on the left, his ball hitting the doglegged fairway and
running 100 yards into the cup. The shot was eight yards short
of the record for an ace, held by Shaun Lynch of England.
Malinda Johnson, Eau Claire, Wis.
Malinda, 17, won the 73rd Western Junior, at Stonehenge Golf
Club in Warsaw, Ind., with a one-up victory over Kristi Larson
of Scottsdale, Ariz. Johnson, who will be a senior at Eau Claire
High, also won the AJGA Windy City Classic in Winnetka, Ill.,
and the Wisconsin PGA Junior this summer.
Alan Steele, Lexington, Ky.
Steele, 36, a computer trainer and scratch golfer, had a hole in
one on the 332-yard par-4 4th hole at Miami Valley Golf Club in
Dayton. Steele, who played baseball at Moorehead State and
didn't take up golf until 13 years ago, has won 10 long-drive
contests in Kentucky and Ohio this year.
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