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Meet Mr. Average Want a fair to middling pro? Mike Springer is the fairest of them all

April 27, 1998
April 27, 1998

Table of Contents
April 27, 1998

Meet Mr. Average Want a fair to middling pro? Mike Springer is the fairest of them all

He doesn't own a jet or a course-design firm, but he averages
266.6 yards off the tee and takes only 29 putts per round. Last
year he made $191,422. "That might sound great to the typical
golfer, but it's not where I want to be," says Mike Springer,
the most typical Tour pro of all. "I've got bigger goals than
being average."

This is an article from the April 27, 1998 issue Original Layout

To identify the quintessential pro, we began with the 20 players
whose ranks in the Tour's All-Around category, a combination of
the major stat rankings, were nearest the Tour average. A close
look at those contenders scotched many candidacies. Fred Funk,
for example, ranks first in driving accuracy--nothing typical
about that. Something funky eliminated several others, too.
Chris Smith gets high marks for mediocre stats but has spells of
extraordinary brilliance, like the one that earned him a
battlefield promotion from the Nike tour. So he's out. In the
end, Michael Paul Springer, 32, stood alone in the middle of the
pack. A second-team All-America at Arizona, Springer joined the
Tour in 1991 and won $178,587, good for 91st place on the money
list. In 1994 he soared to 13th with $770,717 in earnings, but
in '97, he played 22 tournaments and made only 11 cuts. At last
week's MCI Heritage Classic he missed the cut, leaving his '98
earnings at $33,850, good for 146th place on the money list. As
the chart below shows, his stats are about what you'd expect.

Boring? Not at all, because the line between being the Tour's
most typical player and being a non-Tour player can be
tissue-thin. After winning a pair of unexceptional Tour events,
the '94 Greater Greensboro Open and the Greater Milwaukee Open
that same year, Springer was nearly certain to lose his card
last fall until his next-to-last event of the season, the
LaCantera Texas Open. But that week he shocked the world by
coming through in a big way, tying for sixth to win $45,325.
That shot him from 130th on the money list into the top 125,
saving his card and making Springer a hero back home in Fresno,
Calif., where he lives with his wife, Crystol, and their two
kids and, of course, hunts and fishes in his free time. "Mike's
not average around here," says Crystol of the Springers' leading
breadwinner. "He's wonderful."

COLOR PHOTO: JIM GUND [Mike Springer squatting on putting green]

TOUR MIKE TOUR TOUR
AVERAGE SPRINGER BEST WORST
Driving
Distance 267.7 266.6 J. Daly 298.2 C.Pavin 239.9

Driving
Accuracy 70.3% 60.2% F. Funk 81.1% T. Tolles 55.6%

Total
Driving 139 211 T. Woods 49 L. Rinker 243

Greens in
Regulation 64.6% 61.6% S. Flesch 72.6% M. Brisky 55.4%

Putts per
G.I.R. 1.776 1.780 J. Daly 1.699 B. Brown 1.880

Birdies 3.44 3.33 D. Duval 4.70 B. Brown 2.29

Sand Saves 51.6% 47.7% K. Triplett 75.7% T. Kite 29.8%

Scoring 71.41 72.64 T. Woods 69.81 G. Hjertstedt 73.9

All-Around 554 771 J. Huston 83 C. Pavin 965

CASH KINGS

Money leader Justin Leonard has averaged $94,618 per event,
which pales next to the $25.6 million that Evander Holyfield
averaged in two fights last year. Here are various sports' top
earners and their per-event pay this season.

TOTAL $ $ PER EVENT

Michael Jordan NBA
$33.14M $404,146
Troy Aikman NFL
$5.87M $366,875
Joe Sakic NHL
$17M $207,317
Dale Earnhardt NASCAR
$1.39M $173,906
Marcelo Rios Tennis
$1.02M $170,000
Justin Leonard PGA Tour
$1.04M $94,618
Albert Belle MLB
$10M $61,728

BAD RAP

Often maligned for its thin field, the Masters featured far more
stars than last week's MCI Heritage Classic. Here's the number
of players near the top of the World Ranking who teed it up at
Augusta and Hilton Head, respectively.

Masters MCI

Top 10 10 5
Top 20 20 13
Top 30 30 17
Top 40 36 22
Top 50 43 25

THE NUMBER

504

Dozens of new Titleists shipped to each Tour event for use at
the driving range--6,048 balls per week and more than 250,000
per year.