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PALMER AND RANKIN PLAY IT SAFE WITH PRESIDENTS AND SOLHEIM CUP PICKS MIGHTY MITE DAVIES'S GAMBLING

Sept. 02, 1996
Sept. 02, 1996

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Sept. 2, 1996

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NFL '96

PALMER AND RANKIN PLAY IT SAFE WITH PRESIDENTS AND SOLHEIM CUP PICKS MIGHTY MITE DAVIES'S GAMBLING

CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS?

This is an article from the Sept. 2, 1996 issue Original Layout

Being the captain of any U.S. golf team used to be easy duty:
Fill out the lineups, do the press conferences, make the
speeches and collect the hardware on Sunday. When he was Ryder
Cup captain in 1983, Jack Nicklaus said one of his biggest
responsibilities was to make sure his team had enough towels and
tees. Times have changed. Now that the U.S. loses international
matches as often as it wins them, the captain's chair has become
the hot seat. Judy Rankin and Arnold Palmer found that out last
week while filling out the final two spots on the 12-player
rosters of the Solheim and Presidents Cup teams, respectively.

Both Palmer and Rankin wanted to avoid the kind of criticism
heaped upon Lanny Wadkins after he used one of his captain's
selections for last year's Ryder Cup to pick Curtis Strange, who
was 23rd on the points list and bogeyed the last three holes to
lose the crucial match against Nick Faldo. Palmer's strategy to
avoid any controversy was simple. He said he would take the 11th
and 12th players off the Presidents Cup points list (the first
10 automatically make the team), but Palmer wavered when the
slumping David Duval took last week off instead of protecting
his No. 9 spot on the list. After the World Series and the
concurrent Greater Vancouver Open, Duval had been overtaken on
the list by Fred Couples and Justin Leonard. "I'm disappointed
in David," said Palmer, who nonetheless decided to make the
11th-ranked Duval and No. 12 Kenny Perry his picks. Earning
spots on the team, in addition to Couples and Leonard, were Mark
O'Meara, Tom Lehman, Phil Mickelson, Mark Brooks, Davis Love
III, Corey Pavin, Scott Hoch and Steve Stricker.

Rankin didn't make any promises about whom she would select.
Keeping her options open to the end, Rankin could be seen at
numerous LPGA events this summer, including last week's Star
Bank Classic in Dayton, checking out the players and pouring
over charts and computer printouts. Rankin's husband, Yippy,
offered this advice: "I told her it was like buying a
thoroughbred racehorse. Take the one that's running the best."

But that's not what Rankin wound up doing. After selecting the
11th-ranked Beth Daniel, Rankin passed over second-year pro
Emilee Klein, the 12th player on the points list and the winner
of back-to-back events in August. Instead Rankin selected the
more experienced Brandie Burton, 13th on the list and 3-0 in
Solheim Cup competition, after giving serious consideration to
Kris Tschetter (14th) and Nancy Lopez (15th). Those who
automatically qualified were Dottie Pepper, Meg Mallon, Kelly
Robbins, Michelle McGann, Jane Geddes, Patty Sheehan, Rosie
Jones, Pat Bradley, Val Skinner and Betsy King.

ATOM ANT

At 5'7" and 128 pounds, Hidemichi Tanaka, the 1995 rookie of the
year on the Japanese tour, is built along the lines of Corey
Pavin, yet he hits the ball more like John Daly. Last week
Tanaka delighted galleries at the World Series of Golf, in which
he finished 23rd, by consistently hitting drives in excess of
280 yards.

A teen heartthrob in Japan as well as his country's most
promising young player, the 25-year-old Tanaka qualified for the
World Series by winning Japan's richest tournament, the Philip
Morris Championship, last October. At Firestone he was hitting
wedge approach shots into many of the 400-plus-yard par-4s,
which raised eyebrows among his competitors. Tanaka relishes his
image as a mighty mite. In fact, he incorporates a drawing of an
ant in the logo on his custom-designed golf shirts. "It is small
but very powerful," Tanaka says, "and I am small but powerful."

THE GAMBLER

Laura Davies's go-for-broke style on the golf course is
apparently an extension of the way she gambles on horses and
greyhounds and in casinos. In her new autobiography, Laura
Davies Naturally, the world's top-ranked woman golfer confesses
to losing about $800,000 gambling over the past 12 years. "I
gamble because I find it fun, and it seldom bothers me when I
lose," Davies says in the book. "I bet heavily, but I can put my
hand on my heart and say there has only been one time when I
have broken my own rule of never betting more than I was
prepared to lose."

In a passage from the book that appeared last week in London's
Daily Telegraph, Davies recalls having lost 4,000[pounds] in a
casino when her self-imposed limit was 3,000[pounds]. That's
nothing compared with the tens of thousands John Daly reportedly
has blown in one sitting at the tables, but it bothered Davies.
"It was obscene to have lost that amount of money in a world
where so many are struggling," she says.

Not all of Davies's bets have been losers. In 1995 she bet a
three-horse, two-dog combination, called a Canadian, that netted
more than 27,691.34[pounds], or about $40,000. "Two days later I
won 600 pounds on a football bet and I have to say that it
worried me that I felt nothing," Davies says. "No thrill
whatsoever."

The thrill for Davies is still winning golf tournaments, which
she did on Sunday for the fourth time this year. Her victory in
Dayton was worth $82,500, and with wins in two majors this year,
it's a safe bet that she'll become the LPGA Player of the Year
for the first time.

THE SHORT GAME

Greg Norman and his swing coach, Butch Harmon, who also works
with Tiger Woods, have split for good. "It was a difference of
opinion on a certain matter," Harmon says. "It was a personal
matter, and to me it's such a petty thing, it's pathetic."...
Ian Woosnam's victory in last week's German Open was his fourth
of the year and pushed him past Colin Montgomerie on the
European tour's money list. Montgomerie, seeking a record fourth
straight money title, withdrew from the tournament because his
father was ill in Scotland.... Greg Norman talked Japan's Jumbo
Ozaki into joining the International Presidents Cup team. Ozaki
was third on the points list but had skipped the first
Presidents Cup, in 1994, and had indicated that he wouldn't play
this time around either. Meanwhile, captain Peter Thomson made
Australians Robert Allenby and Peter Senior his two wild-card
picks.... Residents at Lake Nona Golf Club in Orlando are
buzzing about their newest neighbor, Gill Faldo, the estranged
wife of Masters champion Nick Faldo, who also lives at Lake
Nona, with his girlfriend, Brenna Cepelak. Gill reportedly
bought the Lake Nona property so the former couple's three
children could spend more time with their father.... Augusta
National superintendent Marsh Benson has been busy this summer
refurbishing the 1st, 2nd and 15th greens. The club has also
moved the practice putting green an additional six yards away
from the 18th hole and closer to the Eisenhower Cabin and has
flattened a spectator mound behind the 2nd green....
Seventeen-year-old Grace Park's victory last week in the PGA
Junior was her 10th junior title of the year.

COLOR PHOTO: JACQUELINE DUVOISIN Already a star in Japan, Tanaka made a name for himself in Akron by outdriving much larger pros. [Hidemichi Tanaka]COLOR PHOTO: JIM GUND Brooks [Mark Brooks]

MAJORING IN GOLF

Although Tiger Woods's decision to turn pro and leave Stanford
after two years was questioned in some quarters, among Tour
players it was viewed as a no-brainer, even though all 10 of the
top Americans on this year's PGA Tour money list attended
college and six completed their degrees. On the other hand,
among this year's major championship winners, just one, Tom
Lehman, earned a diploma. Says Mark Brooks, the PGA champion,
who is second on the Tour's money list with more than $1.35
million in earnings, "I wasn't going to need a degree to do what
I was going to do, which is stay in the golf business. I might
have had to take some other courses, to further my education.
But a degree would not have been required. There are a lot of
people walking around with degrees nowadays who are not making
much money." Listed, in order of earnings, are the top-10
American money-winners in 1996 and the colleges they attended.

Player College Degree

Phil Mickelson Arizona State Psychology
Mark Brooks Texas Did not graduate
Tom Lehman Minnesota Business
Mark O'Meara Long Beach State Marketing
Steve Stricker Illinois Program management
Fred Couples Houston Did not graduate
Scott Hoch Wake Forest Communications
Davis Love III North Carolina Did not graduate
Justin Leonard Texas Business
Kenny Perry Western Ky. Did not graduate