Club pros got to shoot for the flag at the PGA Cup
This is an article from the Sept. 21, 1998 issue
Call it the Ryder Cup Unplugged. You could have heard a lone
bagpiper from a mile away last week at the Broadmoor in Colorado
Springs, where the PGA of America staged the PGA Cup, a biennial
match between the 10 best American club pros and their
counterparts from Great Britain and Ireland. There was no
corporate village, no network TV, no gallery ropes--no gallery,
for that matter. The matches, which mimic the Ryder Cup down to
the bagpipes and team blazers, featured three days of competition
and, according to an unofficial count that ruled out relatives,
one fan--a guy from Iowa who stumbled onto the Cup while attending
a hardware convention.
Still, the players blinked back tears during opening ceremonies,
when the Pikes Peak Brass Ensemble played the Star-Spangled
Banner and God Save the Queen. Then the Yanks began clobbering
their guests. Jay Overton, a 47-year-old from Tarpon Springs,
Fla., said the Cup made him feel 30 again, but his Tigerish
uppercut after a long birdie putt made Overton look 22. Bruce
Zabriski, who'll take over as Donald Trump's pro at Trump
International in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Nov. 1, and Darrell
Kestner, whose celeb clients at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset,
N.Y., include Sean Connery and Frank Gifford, also helped the
U.S. rack up a huge early lead. The visiting team looked sick and
tired, perhaps strung out by jet lag and the 6,500-foot altitude.
England's Stephen Bennett, a former winner of the Tunisian and
the Zimbabwe Opens, bloodied his knuckles with a right cross to
his golf bag as GB&I fell behind on Day 2, 10 1/2 to 1 1/2.
Chris Tucker was a hit for the home team. A veteran of 18 trips
to the PGA Tour's Q school, Tucker tied for third at the 1992
Buick San Diego Open, but soon his career was a country song.
"Bad golf, bad marriage, bad year," says Tucker, who had lost his
Tour card, gotten divorced and gone flat broke by the end of '93.
He rebuilt his life and found a new wife while teaching at a
driving range in Charlotte (see Cup, Tin), and is now head pro at
Charlotte National. Tucker hit the perfect note with a 40-foot
birdie putt on the 1st hole on Day 2 and went on to a 3-1 record.
That was a half point better than the 2-1-1 of GB&I stalwart
Russell Weir. At the '87 Scottish Open, Weir so impressed Fred
Couples that Couples suggested the former postman from Dunoon,
Scotland, try the European tour. Weir did but broke his leg while
swinging a club at the '91 European PGA Championship. These days
the seven-time PGA Cupper is biding his time waiting for 2001,
when he turns 50 and can join Jim Albus, Bruce Summerhays, Tom
Wargo and other PGA Cup alums in senior competition.
Weir and the rest were playing for the Llandudno International
Trophy, a silver jug named for a town in Wales. First won by
England in an all-U.K. team match in 1939, the trophy fell from
the mantelpiece of English team captain Percy Alliss, Peter's
father, during a German bombing raid on London and was slightly
bent. Last Friday, Bob Gaus, a pro from Affton, Mo., clinched the
still-dented Cup for Team USA by halving his singles match with
England's Paul Wesselingh. The Americans went on to win 17-9, and
that evening golfers from both teams donned their blazers and
took their wives and girlfriends to a party. After a solemn toast
to the Queen and a far less reverential one for President
Clinton, the bubbly flowed. Everyone danced, forgetting golf, and
at 3 a.m. Ron McDougal of Century Country Club in Purchase, N.Y.,
who had gone 1-1-2 for the U.S., found himself wearing a GB&I cap
and four GB&I neckties. --Cameron Morfit
NO BED OF ROSES
After Justin Rose holed a 45-yard wedge shot on the last hole to
finish fourth at the British Open, his future looked as rosy as
the setting sun on the Irish Sea. Since then his fortunes have
sunk. The 18-year-old Rose, who turned pro the day after his
heroics at Royal Birkdale, has missed six straight cuts on the
European tour. A first-round 80 last Thursday at the British
Masters in Coventry assured another missed cut and a trip to the
Euro tour's grueling six-round Q school, which began with
prequalifying at Nick Faldo's Chart Hills course near London on
Monday. "I'm looking forward to the challenge," Rose said last
week. "I firmly believe you become a better player by going
through the lows, not the highs."
Zevo, a clubmaker that had been negotiating an endorsement deal
with Rose, reportedly thought his price of $1.6 million was too
high and said no to Rose's rep, Mike Todd. "We're not worried,"
says Todd. Still, Rose's father, Ken, admits that Justin's bag
carries a Cobra logo only because "we don't want to buy a blank
"What happened at Birkdale was brilliant, but it was fantasy,"
young Rose says. "Now I'm faced with reality. Someday I may be
grateful for this. In 20 years' time, when I have won a load of
majors, nobody will say I thought I was too good for
THE SHAG BAG
Lapping It Up: One perk for players at last week's Comfort Senior
Classic was driving NASCAR race cars at the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway. Larry Ziegler led the golfers with a lap speed of 145.7
mph. Steve Veriato called his laps "the highlight of my week"
even after he shot 64 on Saturday. Veriato tied for fifth behind
winner Hugh Baiocchi, who had turned in a 125-mph lap.
Chasing History: Baiocchi says that when he checked the leader
board on Sunday, "I saw 61 SOSA at the bottom. I thought, Who
the devil is Sosa? Did somebody sneak in with a 61?" Sosa, of
course, is the Cubs' slammin' Sammy, who hit shots number 61 and
62 that day.
Don't Fence Me In: Gary McCord (below), making his second Senior
appearance, hit three balls out-of-bounds on the same hole.
McCord's drive at the par-5 15th at Indy's Brickyard Crossing
Golf Club hit a cart path and bounced through a chain-link
fence. He reloaded and watched his next tee shot do the same
thing. Moments later he hit a fairway wood that struck a rock,
caromed 70 yards to the nearest chain-link fence and rolled
through it. After making a 10, McCord said, "Do you know how
hard it is to hit three golf balls through a chain-link fence?"
He finished 54th.
Meep-Meep: When pros at last week's British Masters were
quizzed about their dream playing partners, Padraig Harrington
chose Wile E. Coyote. After praising the hapless 'toon's
"persistent pursuit of the impossible dream," Harrington missed
the cut. The winner was Colin Montgomerie, who has been
practicing with a laser-aided putter.
She's Se Rious: While Se Ri Pak faltered to finish 21st at last
week's Safeco Classic in Kent, Wash., Annika Sorenstam claimed
her fourth title of the year. "I feel high in my game," said
Sorenstam, who leads the European team against the U.S. at the
Solheim Cup this week.
Great Expectations: Asked if she's worried about the stamina of
Tammie Green, who is six months pregnant, U.S. Solheim captain
Judy Rankin said, "The two of them will do fine. I hope our 13th
person gives us an advantage."
Love Match: C.R. Chernick, a 13 handicapper from St. Louis, won
last week's DuPont World Amateur Handicap Championship in Myrtle
Beach, S.C., but don't expect Chernick to go home and gloat. Two
shots back in third place was Dee Dankocsik, his fiancee.
Oven Fresh: "I was a forceps baby, so I came out with little
indentations in my head," says Muffin Spencer-Devlin. "My
grandmother thought I looked like a muffin." Spencer-Devlin
recently reverted to her given name. Please call her Helene.
Putting on a Show
The pros prefer 90-compression balata-covered balls, but that's
where similarities between the PGA Tour and the Professional
Putters Association end. More than 150 contestants will roll into
Orlando on Friday and Saturday to test the green-felt carpets at
the $20,000 National Putt-Putt Championship. They'll play two
classic 18-hole par-36 courses set amid lush gardens and
waterfalls. The 18th at Orange Lake No. 1, one of the toughest
finishing holes in the game, features a green that slopes as
severely as any at Augusta National. Cincinnati's Kevin Lacey,
who had 17 aces in one round to win a tournament in May, and
Randy Reeves of Montgomery, Ala., who aced 72 of 144 holes to win
the '97 National, are among the favorites to take home the $3,500
winner's check and the NPPC trophy, a plate of etched glass
that's almost as slick as a downhill Putt-Putt putt.
DANIEL IN THE LIONESSES' DEN
Beth Daniel didn't need a club to fire the most famous shot of
her Solheim Cup career. Having helped the U.S. thrash Europe in
the inaugural Solheim Cup, in 1990, Daniel was certain that she
and her fellow Americans would win again in '92. "You could put
any one of us on the European side and make it better," she
said. Her words were bulletin-board fodder for Europe's team, a
6-to-1 underdog. In the leadoff match in Edinburgh, Laura Davies
and Alison Nicholas scratched out a one-up win over Daniel and
Betsy King. Europe led 4 1/2-3 1/2 after two days of pairs
matches, and in Sunday's singles the home team cruised, coasting
to an 11 1/2-6 1/2 victory. "This is our answer to Beth Daniel,"
said Helen Alfredsson. "It's a great scalp to put on the wall
Should touring pros join the Tour Players Association in order to
gain control of the Tour?
--Based on 697 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Which golfer do you root against? To answer, go to
Who turns to gold in the final months of the PGA Tour season,
from the Greater Milwaukee Open through the Tour Championship? We
came up with the Mr. Autumn of the past five years by awarding 10
points for a victory, eight for second place, six for third and
two for fourth through 10th.
PLAYER WINS 2NDS 3RDS PTS.
Loren Roberts 1 3 2 54
Scott Hoch 3 0 1 46
Davis Love III 2 2 1 46
David Duval 3 1 0 42
Fred Funk 2 1 1 42
Billy Mayfair 2 2 0 40
Brad Bryant 1 1 3 40
Bill Glasson 1 0 1 34
Jay Haas 1 2 0 34
Tiger Woods 2 0 2 32
Jim Gallagher Jr. 2 0 1 30
Mark McCumber 2 0 0 24
Mark O'Meara 1 0 0 20
Millions of dollars Nick Faldo lost, on paper, between July 14,
when his 900,000 shares of Adams Golf were worth $18.88 per
share, and last Friday, when the stock fell to $4.75.
What do these players have in common?
They are the only members of the U.S. Solheim Cup team under 30.
Burton is 26, Robbins 28 and Hurst 29.