9,200 and Counting
HARD CORE COLLECTOR
Carl Runion brings his logoed golf balls into the basement of
his three-bedroom, 1 1/2-bath home in Erlanger, Ky., cleans them
in his white Westinghouse dishwasher, sorts them, catalogs them
on his PC and places them in the towering poplar-wood racks he
built and stained himself. He does not play golf with them. "My
logos I don't hit," says Runion, a 23 handicapper who plays up
to five times a week.
Runion's dimpled pearls number 9,200--"This spring I'll have
over 10,000," he says--making his better half, Mira, a strong
candidate for Wife of the Year. "If he weren't collecting them,"
she says wearily, "he'd be collecting something else."
Carl, 67, has logoed golf balls from every franchise in every
major pro sports league, save for a few expansion teams. He has
balls from 20 states, balls from most major cities and balls
from many countries. He has walls of balls, halls of balls, the
Niagara Falls of balls. "I just thought it'd be a neat deal,"
says Runion, who installed elevators until retiring in 1989. He
became obsessed with orbs in '91 but says, "I didn't think
there'd be so dang many of them."
Among Runion's collection there's the naked-lady-on-all-fours
ball, offering an unprintable double entendre of a swing
thought. There's the OH S--- ball, and the black-and-white eight
ball. Runion's all-ball team? That would include the balls from
Super Bowls XXVIII, XXIX and XXXI--they're not as easy to get as
you might think, he says--and the ball his daughter, Tonia, gave
him for Christmas two years ago. It has his picture on it.
Tonia, 32, is the enabler of the family. She gave Carl her old
dishwasher last year. He had been using the washing machine to
clean his balls until the day he "put 300 to 350 in there, and
it kind of squealed on me," he says.
Roll on Runion must, for he has competition. Craig Risheberger, a
47-year-old bank administrator also from the Cincinnati area, has
3,000 balls. The two met in '97 while combing through the same
bushel at Devou Park Golf Course outside Covington, Ky. Runion
helped Risheberger get his ball bearings, selling the kid his
duplicate set of NFL teams.
Mira takes all this in with bemused detachment. At least it's a
cheap hobby--"Some balls he has gotten for a quarter, some he
has paid more than a dollar for," she says--and her washing
machine has been spared. Besides, Carl's going to tire of his
balls some day. When that happens, Mira might march down to the
basement and put up the fast-food-restaurant toys she has been
collecting for the last 10 years.
Lorie Kane's Winless Way
A NEW STANDARD FOR FRUSTRATION
Maybe it's all those days in junior high when as a synchronized
swimmer for Canada she was required to show her pearly whites,
or a holdover from her days as a spokesperson for Moosehead
Breweries. Whatever the reason, Lorie Kane is still smiling
despite the fact that after losing two playoffs this year, she
remains winless for her career and recently earned an unwanted
distinction: she passed Alice Ritzman as the LPGA tour's alltime
leading money winner without a victory.
Heading into this week's season-ending PageNet Championship,
Kane, 34, is in the top 10 in birdies (third), scoring (sixth),
driving accuracy (seventh), rounds under par (third) and top 10s
(sixth). She has come in second eight times in her four LPGA
seasons. "It's frustrating enough that you want a win for
yourself," Ritzman says, "but other players and the fans want
one for you, too."
Last year Kane set an LPGA single-season record for subpar
rounds with 69, and her Sunday stroke average when she has come
in second is an impressive 68. "It's not like she hasn't played
well," says her caddie, Danny Sharp. "She just hasn't won."
Kane's peers predict she'll soon break through. "Lorie has such
a great attitude; it would be easy to start getting frustrated
about all of the seconds," says Nancy Lopez, who has had 48 of
them in her Hall of Fame career. "When she finally wins, she'll
probably break out like gangbusters." --Tom Hanson
Golf Plus will next appear in the Dec. 6 issue.
COLOR PHOTO: KEVIN MIYAZAKI Runion gathered guns, knives and hats before turning to golf balls.
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BARD
COLOR PHOTO: PEYTON HOGE
COLOR PHOTO: FINCHER PHOTOS, INC.
What do these players have in common?
They led the Tour this year in driving statistics, but none of
them won a tournament. Daly was No. 1 in distance (305.6 yards)
and Funk in accuracy (80.2%), while Smith had the longest drive
(427 yards). Tiger Woods led in the total driving category.
To pay respects to Payne Stewart, should commissioner Tim
Finchem have canceled the Tour Championship?
--Based on 1,736 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Did the three World tour events exceed, meet or
fail to meet your expectations? Vote at golfplus.cnnsi.com.
The low 35 players plus ties will earn their PGA Tour cards at
the Nov. 17-22 Qualifying Tournament at Doral, but they'll have
a hard time surpassing the first-year showing of last fall's
graduates. With four victories and 50 top 10s, the 1998 Q school
class is the best since 1989 alumni Robert Gamez, Nolan Henke,
Peter Persons and Tony Sills won a total of five times. Here are
the standouts from last year's Q school.
STARTS 10S WINS MONEY
Carlos Franco 22 7 2 1,864,584
Mike Weir 30 7 1 1,491,139
Jonathan Kaye 32 5 0 845,051
Rich Beem 24 2 1 610,555
Scott Dunlap 24 3 0 533,027
Joe Alfieri, Lutz, Fla.
Alfieri, 30, won the Florida amateur player of the year award
after winning the state's mid-amateur, mid-amateur four-ball and
all-age four-ball titles--the latter two with Doug LaCrosse of
Tampa. Alfieri was also runner-up in the amateur stroke play and
a semifinalist in the match play.
Sarah Jacobs, Nashville
Sarah, a senior at Davidson Academy, led the Bears to their
fifth consecutive Class A-AA team title by winning her second
straight individual crown. Sarah shot a four-under 140 to tie
the girls' all-class state record, and her 68 in the second
round was a stroke shy of the record she set last year.
Todd Smith, Peru, Ind.
Smith, 36, the head pro at Rock Hollow Golf Club, won the
Northern PGA Club Pro, one of four regional club pro
championships. Smith, whose younger brother, Chris, is on the
PGA Tour, also won his third consecutive, and fourth career,
Indiana PGA section title this summer.
Submit FACES candidates to golfplus.cnnsi.com/faces.