HIS NEXT STEP
Everyone's wondering where Casey Martin will play
After his victory in an Oregon courtroom on Feb. 11, Casey
Martin got a belated invitation from PGA Tour commissioner Tim
Finchem. "The lawyers have made all their arguments," said
Finchem, a lawyer. "It's going to take years for the appellate
process to resolve this issue. In the meantime, let's see how
well Casey can play."
Many Tour players were less conciliatory. Fred Couples called
federal magistrate Tom Coffin's ruling "a farce." Brandel
Chamblee said the pros might load their carts with beer and
sandwiches. Tom Watson said he was considering demanding a cart.
"Would I play better? No question!" Watson fumed.
Meanwhile Martin, who recently signed an equipment deal with
Karsten Manufacturing, hesitated as if wondering what to do
next. Should he stay on the Nike tour? Or request sponsors'
exemptions into PGA Tour events--the surest way to fulfill his
dream of playing at the game's highest level? These were new
questions; no one had the answers yet.
Suppose you're Tom Pulchinski, tournament director of the Nissan
Open in Los Angeles. Do you keep Martin out to please the PGA
Tour, or invite him and turn your Tour stop into the biggest
sports event since the Super Bowl? "We would not shut him out
just because he won a court case against the Tour, but we won't
be putting him in just because he rides a cart," said
Pulchinski, who finally opted not to invite him.
Officials at this week's Tucson Chrysler Classic came close to
offering Martin an exemption. Having Casey in the field "might
be bigger mediawise than having Tiger [Woods]," said a Tucson
spokeswoman. Then they heard from Martin's camp: No thanks.
Agent Jim Lehman, Tour star Tom Lehman's brother, said his
client needed rest after a month of legal battles, TV
interviews, Nike commercial shoots and a trip to Washington,
D.C., to support the Americans with Disabilities Act. Martin was
also worried about appearances. He fretted that other players
would be offended "if he took advantage of his situation too
early," said Lehman. Melinda Martin felt the weight of her son's
worries. "Truthfully, he would love to play in Tucson or at
Doral or anywhere on the big Tour, but he doesn't feel he has
the right," she said.
After being offered an exemption to the March 5-8 Doral-Ryder
Open, Martin turned it down. He had promised to play at the Nike
Greater Austin Open. Martin's only major move came on Monday,
when he moved out of his parents' house in Eugene, Ore. He drove
10 hours (stopping every 100 miles or so to elevate his leg) to
Foster City, Calif., where he will share a condo with a former
Stanford teammate. The most talked-about man in golf made the
Tiger Woods carried his own clubs onto a soundstage at Orlando's
Universal Studios last week. He gawked at decks of computers,
synthesizers, digitizers and 120,000 watts of lighting, almost
enough to eclipse his grin at the thought of creating his own
video game. "This is wild," he said.
After signing what his agent Hughes Norton calls "the largest
game deal ever," a four-year pact with Electronic Arts, Woods
brought plenty of ideas to producer Rich Hilleman. "I've played
all the golf games, and they seem slow, boring,
two-dimensional," he said. "My game is going to be fast."
His game, due to hit stores in June, is Tiger Woods PGA Tour
'99. Hilleman calls it "Tiger to the nth degree."
"The hardest part was the fist-pumping," Woods says. "I'm so far
in the zone when I do that, I don't know what's happening. I
actually have no memory of ever pumping my fist."
Greg Nared of Nike came to the rescue, serving as fist-pumping
coach. "No, Tiger, you don't just stand there pumping it," he
called out. "You run across the green making big spike marks!"
Woods was soon doing a convincing Tiger Woods impression. He ran
around the set, fist pumping wildly, punching holes all over
THE SHAG BAG
BRACE YOURSELF: How to follow up the most lucrative season ever
by a female golfer? Annika Sorenstam changed everything. She
appeared at the Los Angeles Women's Championship in new Nike
shoes, with new Callaway X-12 irons, hitting a new ball, the
Maxfli Revolution--and hardly anyone noticed. Press, players and
fans alike were agog at her new braces. "I can't eat pizza,
potato chips or corn on the cob," said a smiling Sorenstam, who
tied for sixth in L.A., two shots behind winner Dale Eggeling.
Maybe Sorenstam's arms were tired: She's spending an extra half
hour each day brushing and flossing. CLINTON'S BRAIN: Asked what
golf advice he would give President Clinton, sports psychologist
Bob Rotella says, "If he were one of my pro players, I would
say, 'Don't play. Deal with your personal problems first.' When
I saw that he was playing golf the other day, I thought, You've
got to be kidding." LEE'S NOT PLEASED: If the old guard gets its
way, chairman of the PGA Tour policy board Richard Ferris might
be on his way out. In testimony at the Casey Martin trial Ferris
said the Senior tour, on which carts are legal, "is not
competition at its highest level. The Senior tour is nostalgia."
That left several Seniors, including Lee Trevino (left),
steamed. "If that's what he said, he doesn't deserve to be on
our board," Trevino said at last week's GTE Classic, where he
came in nine shots behind winner Jim Albus. "We're out there
playing for blood." BEATS THE WEATHER AT PEBBLE: The New York
Times reports that the Siberian equivalent of golf features
six-foot corkscrews and the heady taste of worms. "If there is a
pastime here to compare to the American male's seemingly
bottomless love of golf, it is undoubtedly ice fishing," the
Times reports from Tomsk. Russian men huddle on frozen rivers,
use huge corkscrews to cut holes in river ice, and keep bait
worms warm by storing them in their mouths. "If you had ever
done it even once, you wouldn't have to ask why," says one
Tomskovite. DIRTY DOZEN: Jarmo Sandelin of Sweden was seven
under during last week's Alfred Dunhill South Africa PGA in
Johannesburg. One hole later he was one over. With his ball in a
bank of plants, Sandelin took what a local reporter called
"eight stabs and sclaffs" and made an octuple-bogey 12. RECKLESS
DRIVER: Many golfers have noticed that titanium drivers tend to
strike sparks when they brush against rough or sandy soil.
"Titanium is flammable," says Clay Long, vice president of
research at Cobra Golf. "What happens is that a little bit of
the metal at the surface actually burns." Long warns users not
to practice their swings at the gas station or anywhere else
near combustible fumes. "That wouldn't be smart at all," he
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNIE
The news from Johannesburg on Monday was that Ernie Els didn't
win. South Africa's national hero had won his country's Open
title the previous week, then tracked Zimbabwe's Tony Johnstone
for three days at the Dunhill South Africa PGA before catching
him with two holes to play. Ernie's fade to second place--he
bogeyed 18 to finish two shots behind Johnstone--didn't dim the
Els-mad crowd's ardor. For Theodore Ernest Els, once described
as "so laid-back he's virtually horizontal," can do no wrong in
his homeland. When 28-year-old lager lover Els, a.k.a. the Big
Easy, did some pub crawling after the '92 South African Open, he
left his $25,000 winner's check in a bar. Next day, retracing
his steps, he found the check where he'd left it.
A 6'3" 210-pounder, the two-time U.S. Open champ has rock-star
charisma his boyhood hero Gary Player couldn't match. Unlike
Player the grim whippet, Easy Ernie inspires groupies as well as
golf fans. Call them Els's Belles--they're the swooning girls
who chase Els everywhere, much to the dismay of his longtime
girlfriend, Liesl Wehmeyer. Friends say wedding bells may be
next for Ernie and Liesl; fans say he's sure to win another
major soon, maybe the Masters. If both predictions come true
this spring, the South African beer industry may never recover.
Corey Pavin still hasn't won since shaving off his trademark
mustache last fall. "I tried growing it back but didn't like how
it came in," says the '95 U.S. Open champ. Maybe he should try a
style that's already Tour-tested.
The semiskanky look of Paul Stankowski might mean 25 more yards
off the tee for short-poker Pavin.
Alternatively, Corey could set a record for consecutive wins
with a David Duval goatee providing grungy modernity.
With the Craig Stadler makeover he could say, "I am the Walrus,
and thanks to Jenny Craig I lost 99 pounds."
If everything else fails...there's always the TV booth.
What do these players have in common?
--Davis Love III
They're the only golfers to lead the PGA Tour in driving
distance in the '90s.
Slope rating from the back tees at Hawaii's Koolau Golf Course,
reputed to be the most difficult in the U.S. The slope at Pebble
Beach is 142.