Search

LIFE WITH TIGER BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THERE IS MORE TO THIS COLLEGE SEASON THAN TIGER WOODS

April 24, 1995
April 24, 1995

Table of Contents
April 24, 1995

LIFE WITH TIGER BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THERE IS MORE TO THIS COLLEGE SEASON THAN TIGER WOODS

By Rick Lipsey PHOTOGRAPHS BY PETER READ MILLER

While Tiger Woods got plenty of attention at the Masters, other
players in Augusta -- Ben Crenshaw, Jack Nicklaus and Davis Love
III, for instance -- got a little too. But when the freshman
phenom tees it up in college events for Stanford, every other
player on every team, the Cardinal included, could stay home, and
nobody but the coaches and players would notice. Such was the case
last week at Arizona State's Thunderbird Collegiate Invitational
in Tempe, where 18 teams squared off in the last gathering of top
talent until the NCAA championships in early June at Ohio State.

This is an article from the April 24, 1995 issue Original Layout

Last week's activities began with a press conference that focused
on the tournament -- for about 10 seconds. ``We've got 18 fabulous
teams and some of the very best collegiate golfers in the
country,'' said Ray Artigue, a tournament volunteer who presided
over the conference, which was attended by five TV stations and
two dozen sportswriters. ``Now I'd like to turn the program over
to Wally Goodwin, Stanford's coach, who will introduce his fine
young player.'' With that, Goodwin introduced Woods, who answered
questions for a quarter of an hour.

A lot of work at the Thunderbird went toward accommodating the
Tiger Woods Show. ``We put up gallery ropes for the first time in
the event's 23 years,'' ASU coach Randy Lein said. ``[Our phones]
have been flooded all week with calls about Tiger. And to handle
the crowds [which averaged 500 per day], we have marshals just for
Tiger's group.''

The scene is the same at every college event in which Woods
competes. After all, the 19-year-old is one of the more celebrated
freshmen in the history of college sports. ``What Tiger's doing
for us is like what Arnold Palmer did for the PGA Tour back in the
'60s,'' says Auburn coach Mike Griffin. ``Yeah, he usually takes
the spotlight away from everybody else, but look at the attention
he's brought to our game. How can we complain?''

But Woods is not the only collegiate talent worth watching. Far
from it, in fact. He is third-ranked nationally, behind Georgia
Tech's Stewart Cink and Oklahoma State's Alan Bratton, and has won
only two of the 10 college events he has played in. Last week he
finished 12th, with a four-over-par 220 in cool, blustery
conditions on ASU's 7,057-yard Karsten Golf Course. Todd Demsey, a
senior at ASU and the 1993 NCAA champion, shot 213 to win medalist
honors.

Among those overshadowed by Woods is the Oklahoma State team,
which could be the best in the history of college golf. No.
1-ranked Oklahoma State has three of the country's top five
players, led by Bratton, a senior and 1994 college co-player of
the year, who this season has one tie for first, five other
top-five finishes and a 71.58 scoring average. Senior Chris
Tidland, a 1993 All-America, is ranked fourth, and junior Trip
Kuehne, who lost to Woods in last year's U.S. Amateur final, is
ranked fifth. The other members of OSU's starting five are junior
Kris Cox, a 1994 All-America who lost to Kuehne in the semifinals
at the '94 Amateur, and sophomore Leif Westerberg, an
honorable-mention All-America in 1994.

The Cowboys are on a mission this season. Last year they entered
the NCAAs as the favorite but finished fifth, 11 strokes behind
winning Stanford. Considering Woods was not even on that Cardinal
squad, the Cowboys have their work cut out for them. But they
seem up to the task. Before last week the Cowboys and the Cardinal
had met six times this season. Because OSU won four of those
tournaments and Stanford two, the Cowboys overtook the Cardinal as
the No. 1 team early this month. In Tempe, OSU finished third with
a score of 877, nine strokes ahead of sixth-place Stanford but 10
behind first-place Arkansas. Arizona State finished second at
871.

Oklahoma State is seven for 12 in its current campaign. Most
schools would be happy with seven wins every decade or two, but
for Mike Holder and OSU, brilliance is par for the course. Holder,
who has been at the OSU helm for 22 years, has coached a slew of
PGA Tour players, including Bob Tway, the winner of last week's
MCI Heritage Classic, David Edwards, Doug Tewell and Scott
Verplank. In 21 NCAA championships his teams have six wins and
eight runner-up finishes and have been out of the top five only
once -- in 1993, when the Cowboys wound up 12th. Holder has 19 Big
Eight titles, and his teams have won nearly half the tournaments
they've entered (142 of 307).

Holder, who grew up in Odessa, Texas, had a decent golf career at
Oklahoma State but admits that as a player he was too hard on
himself. ``I beat myself up mentally,'' he says. Upon receiving
his MBA from OSU in 1973, he took a job as the school's golf
coach.

It's a good thing Holder hasn't lost much since then, because
things can get ugly when he does. Until a few years ago he was a
ticking time bomb at every tournament. He would kick the walls,
throw his hat and chew out the players. In 1990 Golf Digest called
him ``the most feared man in college golf.'' ``In the third round
at the NCAAs 15 years ago,'' his wife, Robbie, recalls, ``the team
blew a big lead in the last three holes. Mike came back to the
hotel in a rage, ranting and raving. Then he started yelling at
me, like I had anything to do with it. But that was routine back
then.''

Now 46, Holder is calmer, and it can at least be said that he
treats his charges better than Bobby Knight does his. ``I've just
mellowed with age,'' Holder says. ``If I hadn't, I'd have run
myself out of coaching. I don't know what I was thinking all those
years.''

He has not, however, stopped running his program like a boot
camp. Holder was one of the first golf coaches to make players
work out, and he goes with his charges to their mandatory 6:05
a.m. aerobics class three days a week. Tardiness to any team
function results in a week of 45-minute predawn workouts on a
Stepmill, or comparable punishment. The results of the intense
training are obvious. ``They all look the same from behind,''
Auburn's Griffin says of Holder's troops.

Holder intentionally holds qualifying rounds in cold and rainy
weather. ``It toughens them up,'' he says. And, unlike some
coaches, he requires players to attend every class. ``When I was
at ASU,'' says Kuehne, who transferred to OSU in 1993, ``we never
had to go to class. That's true at a lot of big-time schools.''

Holder's strict style breeds intensely focused student-athletes.
On the surface all his players look like robotic, emotionless,
birdie-making machines, but Holder's team should not be judged by
its steely cover. ``People are always asking me, `What's it like
to play for Holder?' '' says Kuehne. ``It's really not so bad.
We're just a tight-knit group of people who strive for excellence
in whatever we do.'' And they tend to succeed. In 1994 every
player in the top five was named to the Academic All-Big Eight
team.

The Cowboys were ranked No. 1 in the country when they went to
last year's NCAAs, and without Woods in the fray, they were the
focus of attention. ``Maybe it hurt us,'' Holder says. Now the
Cowboys can win all they want and they'll still be able to tiptoe
into the tournament. And if Holder has his way, they'll also be
able to tiptoe away with the championship trophy.

TWO COLOR PHOTOS:PHOTOGRAPHS BY PETER READ MILLER Overshadowed by Woods (above), Steven Bright (left) helped Arkansas to the Thunderbird title.[Tiger Woods; Steven Bright]TWO COLOR PHOTOS:PHOTOGRAPHS BY PETER READ MILLERHolder (above) has a tight rein on his Cowboys, including Bratton, a '94 college co-player of the year.[Mike Holder; Alan Bratton]