Webb of Intrigue

Karrie Webb was the LPGA's rookie of the year in 1996 and won
the Vare trophy in '97. But so intense was the buzz over Se Ri
Pak and Annika Sorenstam in '98 that Webb could have stayed home
in Australia for all anyone noticed. Not so this year. After
beating Dottie Pepper and Kris Tschetter at last week's Office
Depot, in West Palm Beach, Fla., Webb has a W, a first-round
scoring average of 66.0 and this: In three '99 starts she has
been in the lead in 10 of 11 rounds.

LPGA Commissioner Jim Ritts said he was blindsided by a story in
The Palm Beach Post accusing the tour of misleading the public
by failing to mention that the LPGA retains a percentage of the
published purse each week to cover operating expenses. "I find
this whole thing inquisitorial," said Ritts. "This is not a
change in policy." Nonetheless, the LPGA's longtime practice of
skimming 6 1/2% of the prize money produces at least one
embarrassing inequity every year: The players in the mixed-team
JC Penney Classic are paid differently. In December, for
example, the Penney was won by Steve Pate and Meg Mallon. Pate
collected $218,750; Mallon, after the LPGA took its cut,
$204,531. "We understand that the LPGA needs to take money,"
says Pepper, "but we don't need to hide the fact that it's
coming out of the purses. We need to be accurate to the public
about what we play for."

PGA Had Phoenix Open winner Rocco Mediate continued to run away
with the tournament--he led by six shots after the third
round--he could have become the fifth player to win the event by
more than 10 strokes, a Tour record.... Nine players failed to
break 80 in the windy first round at Phoenix, with the scoring
average for the round ballooning to 3.523 strokes over par. Last
year that would've been second only to the U.S. Open at Olympic
for the toughest opening round.

SENIOR Jack Nicklaus, who on Monday was released from Boston's
New England Baptist Hospital after undergoing hip-replacement
surgery on Jan. 27, says there is only a one in 50 chance that
he will be fit enough to play in his June 3-6 Memorial
Tournament. For the next six weeks the only walking that
Nicklaus will do is in his swimming pool.... Without Nicklaus,
ABC's overnight rating for the Senior Skins Game, won by Hale
Irwin, slipped 24% from last year.

ALSO Australian Jarrod Moseley made up five strokes in the final
round to beat Ernie Els at the Heineken Classic in Perth, one
year and six days after Els blew an eight-shot lead over Tiger
Woods in the final round of the Johnnie Walker Classic.

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY JIM GUND Shining moment By the time the sun set last Saturday in Phoenix, Mediate had opened an insurmountable six-stroke lead.

UP and Down

Nick Price Atrigon and Goldwin
George Toma Greg Norman
Edwin Watts Nevada Bob's
TPC of Scottsdale in '99 TPC of Scottsdale in '97
Loose impediments Two-ton boulders