LPGA player Nicole Jeray is like a little sister. I first met her
in 1991, while I was mapping Cog Hill. I was out in the 1st
fairway when I spotted a young lady with a tour-caliber swing
hitting balls at the nearby practice tee. I knew most of the LPGA
players but didn't recognize this woman, so I walked over and
introduced myself. "Heck of a swing," I said. "You on tour?"
Nicole laughed. "No way, not with my game," she said.
Nicole played for Northern Illinois but didn't think she was good
enough for the LPGA. "You don't have to be perfect," I told her.
"The pros aren't superheroes."
Nicole liked my little pep talk. I also promised her that if
she'd play in the Monday qualifier for the LPGA Chicago Sun-Times
Shootout later that summer, I'd caddie for her. Nicole entered
and shot a 67 to earn a spot in the field. Two years later she
turned pro, and I caddied for her at Q school as she finished
fifth and got her card. A narcoleptic, Nicole has had a difficult
time on tour, with only one top 10 in seven seasons, but I still
think she has the goods.
Nicole's favorite hole at Cog Hill is the 18th, which has two
mean hazards. The first is Jasper, a growling 2-year-old
Doberman-Lab mix who lives off the fairway in the backyard of
course superintendent Ken Lapp's house. The other is the pond in
front of the green. There used to be rough on the steep bank
between the green and the water, but now the bank is shaved. At
this week's Western Open the men will have to hit a "dead"
approach--a shot with no spin--to keep balls from sucking back
into the drink.
*For 28 years Gorjus George has drawn the yardage books that the
B/W DIAGRAM: DIAGRAM BY GEORGE LUCAS No. 18 Par-4480 Yards
COLOR PHOTO: DAVID WALBERG (LUCAS)