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NEWS AND NOTES

March 03, 1997
March 03, 1997

Table of Contents
March 3, 1997

Faces In The Crowd

NEWS AND NOTES

SLUMAN WINS AGAIN, FINALLY

This is an article from the March 3, 1997 issue

When Jeff Sluman won the 1988 PGA Championship at Oak Tree in
Edmond, Okla., for the first victory of his career, no one
expected that it might be his last. But it was--until Sunday,
when Sluman ended a nine-year, 241-tournament drought by winning
the Tucson Chrysler Classic. "The monkey is off my back,
finally," said Sluman, whose 13-under-par 275 beat runner-up
Steve Jones by a stroke.

Sluman had come close to winning many times since the '88
PGA--too close, too many times. At some point, finishing second
evolves from "Nice going!" to "Why can't he win?" He was second
eight times, losing three tournaments in sudden death, had 43
top-10 finishes and won more than $3.5 million. But this year
he'd missed two of three cuts and was 158th on the money list,
and after a 75 in the first round at the Omni Tucson National
Resort and Spa, he was thinking about which flight to take home
to Chicago. That night Sluman called home and his wife, Linda,
an oncologist, told him to believe in himself. Can it be so
simple?

It helped that he started making some putts. He shot 68 the next
day, then on Saturday chipped in twice en route to a 65, which
put him four strokes behind the leader, Brad Bryant. On Sunday,
Sluman shot 67, the day's third-best score, while the leaders
wilted. Bryant led until his drive at the 10th hole sailed into
a lake. Mike Reid had a share of the lead when his tee shot at
the short 13th hole went out-of-bounds. And Paul Stankowski's
three-putt bogey at the 12th sent him packing.

Sluman moved on top with a birdie at the 14th. Then, at the
186-yard par-3 17th, he did what he hadn't done for nine
years--nailed a clutch shot under pressure. Sluman's four-iron
stopped two feet from the cup, and the birdie put him a shot
ahead of Jones. Although Sluman bogeyed the 18th, so did Jones.

It was a nice comeback for one of the friendliest guys on Tour.
"Even if I never won again, my career wouldn't have been a poor
one," says Sluman. "I think my peers respect me as a player."

THE TOUR PROS PICK AN AMERICAN DREAM TEAM

Ten of the 12 players who will compete on the U.S. Ryder Cup
team this September will have earned that honor, thanks to a
system that awards points, on a sliding scale, for top-10
finishes over a two-year span. The other two players are
selected by the captain--Tom Kite this time around--and choosing
them is always a tough, and sometimes a controversial, decision.
Imagine how much more difficult it would be if Kite had to
select all 12 members.

We asked 30 Tour players to do just that. (The accompanying
chart shows the votes for all players who received more than
one, as well as the current official standings.) Our panel
included some players who have been on the team, like Fred
Couples, and some lesser lights who have not, such as Robert
Damron. Only three players were unanimous choices--Tom Lehman,
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Four more, Fred Couples, Davis
Love III, Mark O'Meara and Corey Pavin, got a healthy majority,
even though Pavin is currently 24th on the points list. The last
five spots on our Dream Team produced surprises. Steve Stricker
and David Duval, two 1996 phenoms, were ranked eighth and ninth
by our voters, even though Stricker is 83rd on this year's money
list and Duval has never won a tournament. Omitted from the top
12 was PGA champion Mark Brooks, who nearly clinched a place on
the team with his 1996 play but has yet to earn a point this
year, as well as Kenny Perry and Jim Furyk, who are ninth and
11th, respectively, in the official standings.

Lee Janzen picked up only three votes in our poll. The former
U.S. Open champion was in the eye of the storm in '95 when
captain Lanny Wadkins picked his old pal Curtis Strange, even
though Janzen had won twice and was third on the money list. But
Janzen has been winless since and is not among the top 25 in
points.

It came as no shock when Kite declined to participate in our
survey. "This is a silly exercise, nonsense," he said. "The last
time I checked, only one guy was allowed to pick the players for
the team--me."

NEW TREATMENT HAS OLLIE BACK IN THE GAME

Jose Maria Olazabal, who for the past 18 months has barely been
able to walk, much less play golf, will tee it up competitively
for the first time since the 1995 Trophee Lancome at this week's
Dubai Desert Classic, thanks to the Dr. Feelgood of Europe,
Germany's Dr. Hans Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt.

A homeopathic specialist who has treated many athletes,
including Boris Becker and Katarina Witt, Muller-Wohlfahrt gave
Olazabal an MRI in September and concluded that the pain in his
feet resulted from a hernia between the sacral and fifth lumbar
bones in his back, not from rheumatoid arthritis, the diagnosis
Olazabal was given at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Discarding cortisone and the anti-inflammatory drugs Olazabal
had been taking, Muller-Wohlfahrt prescribed injections of iron,
zinc and natural amino acids, and therapy to bring life back to
atrophied muscles, nerves and tendons in his lower body.

Declaring himself much improved, Olazabal has been practicing
seven hours a day for the last month, but he is putting no
pressure on himself. "Dubai is only a test, not Jose Maria
Olazabal charging back," he says. "I want to test my feet in
competition. It could be six months, maybe more, before I know
whether I can play two or three tournaments in a row without
real pain."

THIS WEDDING'S OFF UNTIL AFTER THE MASTERS

Last week the Augusta National Golf Club released the names of
the foreign players invited to play in the April 10-13 Masters
tournament. Among them is England's Lee Westwood, 23, who won
the '96 Scandinavian Masters and finished sixth on Europe's
money list. While Westwood was thrilled that he would be playing
in his first Masters, his fiancee, Laurae Coltart, was not. The
couple had planned to marry the week of the tournament. Says
Westwood, "I told her, 'I've got to go to Augusta. It might be
the only chance I ever get.' She replied, 'And how many chances,
exactly, do you think you'll have to get married?'" Westwood and
Coltart decided to push the wedding back until later in the
year, and will go--together--to Augusta.

NICKLAUS AND TREVINO FACE AN AGE-OLD QUESTION

There's a precipice on the Senior tour with an abyss beyond, and
whether they know it or not, those old rivals Jack Nicklaus and
Lee Trevino are standing on it. Over the winter both turned 57,
and statistics show that when a player reaches that age, he's
usually three down with two to play.

Take Bruce Crampton. He won his 19th Senior event in March 1992,
turned 57 six months later and hasn't won again. George Archer?
He has won 17 times but not once since turning 57. Miller Barber
had more than 20 wins when he hit the magic age and won four
more that year but none thereafter. In his mid-50s Don January
averaged four wins a year for four years. Two months after that
not-so-happy birthday, he won again, but, quoth the raven,
nevermore. What about Arnie, Gary and Chi Chi? Collectively
they've won 50 Senior tournaments but only four after 57.

While it's too early to tell if the over-57 malaise applies to
Trevino, his finishes this year have been 22nd, 57th, 14th, a
tie for ninth, and last week, in the American Express
Invitational in Sarasota, Fla., a tie for sixth. Not the Trevino
numbers--he has 27 Senior wins--we're used to.

Judging Nicklaus at 57 is harder. He makes only cameo Senior
appearances, mostly dropping in to win majors. He has 10 Senior
titles, but eight of them are majors, and he's the sole Senior
to have won all four. This year, in two events, the Golden Bear
has finished 23rd and 14th. When asked about the age hypothesis,
Trevino sounds resigned. "I wish I could turn back the clock,
but I've accepted it," he says. "I'm still going to win every
once in a while, but I'm not going to beat those drums the way I
used to."

And Nicklaus? "I will not dignify that with an answer," he says.
"That's ridiculous." Which, perhaps, is the attitude you need to
be Jack Nicklaus.

THE SHAG BAG

With her win in the Hawaiian Open, Annika Sorenstam has two
victories and a second in her first three events of the year,
the best start on the LPGA since 1969, when Kathy Whitworth won
her first four tournaments.... Unless he wins in the next six
weeks, Curtis Strange will miss the Masters for the first time
since 1978.... Payne Stewart also must win to get into the
Masters, but he's not concerned. "It's the low end of my majors
scale," he says. "It's not sliced bread. I could take it or
leave it."... The top five finishers from last week's Nike
Inland Empire Open collectively have 12 PGA Tour titles, 64
years of Tour experience and an average age of 38. Mark
Carnevale, 36, the Inland Empire winner, played the Tour from
1992 to '95 and won the 1992 Chattanooga Classic.... Tom Kite,
whose 259.7-yard driving average was the 153rd best on Tour in
'96, ranked sixth in Tucson with 296.1 yards per drive....
Virginia Van Wie, one of five players to have won three straight
U.S. Women's Amateurs (1932 to '34) died last week at her home
in Michigan. She was 88.... Bud Allin, a five-time Tour winner
who managed the golf division of a real estate company from 1986
to '94, won the American Express Invitational. It was his first
victory in three years on the Senior tour.... Nick Price's win
in the South African PGA, in Johannesburg, was his second
straight on the European tour.

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATION BY JOHN S. DYKES Imagine Seve Ballesteros facing this Ryder Cup team in Spain. [Drawing of Tiger Woods, Tom Kite, Carey Pavin and other American golfers in ship sailing towards Seve Ballesteros]

SI DREAM TEAM VOTES OFFICIAL STANDINGS

1. Tom Lehman 30 Tom Lehman
Phil Mickelson 30 Mark O'Meara
Tiger Woods 30 Steve Jones
4. Corey Pavin 29 Davis Love III
5. Fred Couples 28 Mark Brooks
Davis Love III 28 Phil Mickelson
7. Mark O'Meara 24 Tiger Woods
8. Steve Stricker 18 Scott Hoch
9. David Duval 17 Kenny Perry
10. John Cook 16 Fred Couples
Steve Jones 16 Jim Furyk
12. Mark Calcavecchia 15 Steve Stricker
Scott Hoch 15 John Cook
Tom Watson 13 Paul Stankowski
Mark Brooks 12 Jeff Maggert
Justin Leonard 11 Tommy Tolles
Jim Furyk 6 David Duval
Tommy Tolles 5 Mark Calcavecchia
Brad Faxon 4 Justin Leonard
Lee Janzen 3 Jeff Sluman
Payne Stewart 3 Brad Faxon
Loren Roberts 2 Duffy Waldorf

THE NUMBER

53

Percentage of her LPGA events since joining the tour in 1994 in
which Annika Sorenstam has finished in the top 10 (32 of 60).