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Original Issue

My Shot If making three-footers were as easy as winning money on game shows, I'd be a millionaire

Friends joke that I should quit golf and become a full-time
TV-game-show contestant, and they may be right. After all, over
the last five years I've won $370,000 in 85 and 26 Asian
tour events but $101,000 in cash and merchandise in only two
appearances on game shows.

I made my game-show debut on The Price Is Right in May 1996. I
live in Huntington Beach, Calif., so for fun I got tickets to a
taping for my wife, Shinta, who loves the show, and she dragged
me along. I wasn't paying attention and didn't hear my name the
first time Rod Roddy called to me, "Come on down!" but the second
time I hopped out of my seat. For correctly pricing a telescope,
I got to go on stage with Bob Barker and his beauties. My game
was one of the dull ones, Buy or Sell, in which there are three
items and you buy the things you think are underpriced and sell
the things that are overpriced. You get to keep all three if you
end up in the black, which I did. I went home with $9,000 in
useless furniture. I sold what was billed as a $3,000 Art Deco
chaise lounge for $400.

My appearance on Winning Lines last year was more profitable. The
game had 49 contestants whom Dick Clark asked general-knowledge
questions that had numerical answers. In the second-to-last
round, with only one other contestant remaining, I advanced to
the finals by correctly answering "20" to the question, "At
Starbucks, how many ounces are there in a vente-sized coffee?" In
the final round I answered 14 questions correctly--answering 20 of
the 49 questions would have gotten me a $1 million prize--and went
home with $92,500. However, the show had a policy of not paying a
winner until his episode aired. Luckily, mine was one of the last
to run, on Feb. 18, before the show was canceled.

Now I'm trying to get on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Two
weeks ago I drove to Las Vegas to audition. Out of the 100
wannabes who showed up, I was one of the 33 who passed a
12-minute written test consisting of 30 brutal fastest-finger
questions like "Put these food-product slogans in the order in
which they were introduced." I knew that "Mmmm-Mmmm Good" came
before "Finger Lickin' Good." Apparently, I didn't do well in
the next audition stage, in which they asked contestants
personal questions--to "What would you do with $1 million?" I
answered, "Pay off my mortgage!"--because the producers haven't
called back.

I'm not giving up, however. I can't play golf for a few months
because of tendinitis in my left shoulder, so every day I'll
call Millionaire's contestant line to see if I can try to
qualify for another audition. Someday I would like to find out
what's more intense: Being in the Hot Seat or standing over a
three-footer to win a tournament.

COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK Ahmad Bateman, 39, won the 1997 Nike Carolina Classic.