SAY, THIS PLACE LOOKS AWFULLY FAMILIAR
This week Casey is idle, so another five-letter, four-wheel
force reclaims pole position on the Tour: Buick. Mark O'Meara
defends his title at the Buick Invitational in San Diego, not to
be confused with the Buick Classic, the Buick Open or the Buick
Challenge--all later in the season. San Diego's second-biggest
sporting event this year boasts the winners of every tournament
so far (Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Jesper Parnevik and El
Nino), nine of the top 14 money leaders from 1997 and six new
skyboxes (priced at $750 to $15,000), on the 15th and 18th
holes. Late last week, Tiger Woods committed to play at Torrey
Pines for the first time since turning pro. The purse jumps to
$2.1 million from $1.5 million.
--NBC, SATURDAY, 3 PM, AND SUNDAY, 2:30 PM
ALL HAIL THE KING, OR ALL HALE?
What does LG stand for? Tournament organizers anticipate a Large
Gallery of Long-Toothed Gents because this year Arnie's Army is
going to march. When Palmer announced on Jan. 15 that he would
be playing in this year's LG (Localized Globalization)
Championship after a six-year hiatus, the Naples, Fla.,
sheriff's department feared that Bay Colony Golf Club would be
overrun by senior spectators, and for good reason. A quarter of
Collier County residents are more than 65.
This year's field, featuring all eight of the tournament's
former champions, is playing for a $1.2 million purse (up from
$1 million in 1997). Arnie, 68, is a long shot to unseat last
year's winner Hale Irwin, especially considering the King's last
victory came at the 1988 Crestar Classic, and his best finish in
the 13 events he played last season was 32nd at the Northville
Long Island Classic. Still, fans will still flock to see the
Lord of the Gerontocracy.
--ESPN, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, 5:30 PM
ELS MIGHT WIN IN HIS SLEEP
Two days after South Africa's Ernie Els won his second U.S. Open
last June, he slept through a call from South Africa's
president, Nelson Mandela. They eventually spoke--"I get goose
bumps when I talk to him," Els says--and the next week he won
the Buick Classic at Westchester Country Club to become the
first South African to reach No. 1 in the World Ranking.
Be forewarned, because this week the Big Easy may be feeling
drowsy again. He's coming off European tour stops in Thailand
(the Johnnie Walker Classic) and Australia (the Heineken
Classic) and is gearing up for a trip to the United Arab
Emirates (the Dubai Desert Classic) before heading back to the
States for the PGA Tour's Florida swing. A victory in
Johannesburg and a slap on the back from a certain prominent
spectator would be sure to give him goose bumps. Vijay Singh
defends at Durban Country Club.
--GOLF CHANNEL, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, 9 AM
PGA Buick Invitational, Torrey Pines (North and South), La
The South Course (which the pros play three times) is 432
yards longer than the North
Senior LG Championship, Bay Colony Golf Club, Naples, Fla.
Bay Colony has changed nines. This year the LG ends on a
watery par-5, not a par-4
Europe South African Open, Durban Country Club, Johannesburg
The field includes local favorites and past champions
Els, David Frost and Mark McNulty