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PLAYERS CONSIDER TAKING ACTION TO PROTEST NEGATIVE REMARKS BY MILLER PARRY'S PEEVED NEW TOY ON TOUR

April 08, 1996
April 08, 1996

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April 8, 1996

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PLAYERS CONSIDER TAKING ACTION TO PROTEST NEGATIVE REMARKS BY MILLER PARRY'S PEEVED NEW TOY ON TOUR

JOHNNY, BE GOOD

CALL IT the Johnny Miller double: Last week the NBC analyst
could claim to be both the No. 1 reason that his network has
been nominated for an Emmy for its golf coverage, and public
enemy No. 1 among Tour players. The latter distinction was
confirmed during a players-only meeting at the Players
Championship when, after Greg Norman complained about Miller,
the players discussed closing the locker room to the media.

This is an article from the April 8, 1996 issue Original Layout

How such a lockout would affect Miller, who makes it a point to
avoid the dressing room, is unclear, but obviously the players
feel that something must be done about what they perceive as
negative coverage by the media in general and Miller in
particular. Norman and other players cited Miller's comments
during the Honda Classic and the Freeport McDermott Classic as
examples. At the Honda, Miller, referring to corpulent winner
Tim Herron, said that "fat guys don't choke." At New Orleans,
Miller joked that a rash of first-time winners had created "the
NBC Hooters tour" and spent, in the opinion of some of the
players at the meeting, too much time dwelling on Tom Watson's
putting problems.

Miller says the players, who left the locker room question
unresolved, are mistaken if they think their gripes will make
him change his style. "If being accurate and expressing my views
of what I just saw comes out negative, so be it," says Miller,
who recently signed a new five-year contract with NBC. "They're
the ones who hit the bad shots. I praise 'em when they're good,
and I have to be accurate when they're bad. The viewer wants to
know if a golfer screwed up. What's good for the game is to be
upright and frank."

Although NBC must walk a fine line between its business
relationship with the Tour--the network has contracted to
broadcast six Tour events a year through 1998--and objective
tournament coverage, Dick Ebersol, NBC's president for sports,
is Miller's strongest supporter. "Golfers are probably, as a
group, among the brightest in dealing with the media," he says,
"but Johnny has been a whole new experience for them. He may not
be popular in the locker room, but he is in the living room."

NO AUSSIES NEEDED

Craig Parry thinks the lords of Augusta have something against
Australians. How else to explain his exclusion from the field of
next week's Masters? "They just don't seem to recognize golf in
Australia," says Parry, who led the Australian tour's 1995 money
list and won this year's Australian Masters.

The Masters makes provisions for international players who might
not otherwise qualify by extending a small number of
invitations. This year six nonexempt foreign players were
invited. Parry, who has played in four Masters and led the '92
event after three rounds, was not among them. "No Australians
are invited," he says, "but it's not just the Masters. I don't
get invited to the U.S. Open, either."

FOREIGN LEGIONS

If you think foreign players are dominating the LPGA now, wait a
couple of years: The stream of international players is likely
to turn into a torrent. Already U.S. college teams are looking
like the United Nations. Consider UCLA and San Jose State, the
first- and second-ranked teams, respectively, in the country.
Three of the four Americans starting for the Bruins were born in
Korea. They are joined in the lineup by a Frenchwoman. The
Spartans start a Swede, a Dane, a Scot, a Norwegian and a lone
American. The collegiate individual rankings are also bereft of
native-born Americans. Seven of the top eight players were born
in other countries.

"They are better than we are, flat-out better," says Mark Gale,
San Jose State's coach, who prefers foreigners because he thinks
kids in the U.S. are coddled. "A lot of Americans play well in
their own environments, with Mom and Dad watching," says Gale.
"But when they get away, they tend to not be so mature. I like
the foreigners because of their high maturity levels. They
travel so far to play, and that shows they have no doubt about
what they can and want to do."

Jackie Steinmann, the UCLA coach, is especially impressed with
the focus and drive of her Korean-American players. "When they
decide to do something, they go after it," she says. "Their
culture is like that. I think it comes from the parents, who
expect so much more of their kids than American parents do. I
should know, I've got three kids."

Last week at the Ping/ASU Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., San Jose
State and UCLA finished third and fourth, respectively, behind
winner Arizona State, the nation's third-ranked team, which has
in its lineup a Mexican, a Sri Lankan and a Swede. The Mexican,
Vinny Riviello, tied for the individual title with Mhairi McKay,
a Scot from Stanford.

TOY STORY

The new gizmo of choice on the PGA Tour is a yardage rangefinder
that provides highly accurate measurements through the use of
laser optics. Although not allowed in competition, the
rangefinders can be used in practice rounds to figure distances
over water and to double-check yardage books.

Tour players, course architects, instructors, college coaches
and caddies have been lining up to buy either the DME ($250),
the Bushnell ($300) or the Swarovski ($3,000) models. All of
them provide in one second the precise distance of any object up
to 1,000 yards away. Fuzzy Zoeller's caddie, Cayce Kerr,
represents Swarovski on Tour and has sold 79 of the devices to
such people as Ben Crenshaw, John Daly, Ernie Els, Peter
Jacobsen, David Leadbetter, Davis Love III, Sandy Lyle, Jim
McLean, Johnny Miller, Larry Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Vijay Singh,
Rick Smith and Kerr's boss, Zoeller.

"I just tell them to leave the check in Fuzzy's locker," says
Kerr, who has a pager and a cell phone to keep up with business
calls. "The product really sells itself. These guys want to get
their hands on any little edge they can."

THE SHORT GAME

Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer injured his shoulder
playing volleyball with friends and had to withdraw from the
Players Championship. Langer suffered a deep bruise while diving
for a ball and was in so much pain that he was rushed to a
hospital by ambulance for X-rays. He had to withdraw from this
week's BellSouth Classic in Atlanta but still hopes to play in
next week's Masters.... Starting in November the LPGA, like the
Senior and PGA tours, will hold a season-ending tournament for
the top 30 players on the money list. The $700,000 event will be
played at the Sheraton Desert Inn in Las Vegas.... Talk about
tough pin placements. One contender five-putted and three others
four-putted the 18th green during the final round of the
European tour's Madeira Island Open. Jarmo Sandelin of Sweden
escaped with a two-putt and a one-stroke win over Paul Affleck
of Wales. "I barely touched my ball and said 'please' to it all
the way to the hole," Sandelin said.... Hale Irwin, at 50 the
oldest player in the Players Championship, warmed up for the
Tradition, the Masters and the PGA Seniors by shooting five
under at Sawgrass to finish 46th. "My main focus has to be the
Senior tour," says Irwin, who is that circuit's leading money
winner this year, "but there's still part of me here, and there
always will be. I've got to get my licks in, then go back and
play where I'm supposed to play.''... Muffin Spencer-Devlin, who
announced that she is gay (SI, March 18), last week received the
1996 Woman of Courage award from the National Organization for
Women.

[BOX]

EXTRA EFFORT

In baseball hit .364 lifetime and you're a lock for the Hall of
Fame. In golf, put up that kind of winning percentage in
sudden-death playoffs--as Greg Norman has (4 for 11)--and people
will deduce that you're a lousy closer. Here are the best and
worst playoff records of active players (minimum of three
appearances).

BEST

Jay Haas 3-0 1.000
Vijay Singh 3-0 1.000
Hollis Stacy 6-1 .857
Lou Graham 3-1 .750
Sandy Lyle 3-1 .750
Nick Faldo 10-4* .714
Tom Watson 8-4 .667
Tom Kite 6-3 .667
Bruce Lietzke 6-3 .667
Curtis Strange 6-3 .667
Julie Inkster 4-2 .667
Sam Torrance 4-2 .667
Dave Hill 5-3 .625
J.C. Snead 5-3 .625

WORST

Ben Crenshaw 0-8 .000
Tommy Aaron 0-6 .000
Colin Montgomerie 0-5* .000
Jim Albus 0-3 .000
Mark Calcavecchia 0-3 .000
Laura Davies 0-3 .000
Alice Ritzman 0-3 .000
Jeff Sluman 0-3 .000
Dave Stockton 0-3 .000
Johnny Miller 1-5 .167
Bruce Crampton 1-4 .200
Billy Mayfair 1-4 .200
Kathy Postlewait 1-4 .200
Bob Charles 2-6 .250
Peter Jacobsen 1-3 .250
Davis Love III 1-3 .250
Scott Simpson 1-3 .250

*Includes European tour

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BURGESS NBC's Miller is a favorite with viewers, but Tour players wish he would take a powder. [Woman powdering Johnny Miller's forehead]COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVERHaas has a perfect record in overtime. [Jay Haas]COLOR PHOTO: JACQUELINE DUVOISIN Rangefinders are all the rage on Tour. [Man holding yardage rangefinder]