Never a Doubt

A week ago we wondered about a former No. 1, Greg Norman, and
the player now atop the World Ranking, Tiger Woods. After Norman
opened the Australian Masters with a 74, someone suggested his
new shoulder was a hand-me-down from Jerry Pate. When Woods
struggled to make the cut in the Buick, a 40th straight winless
week seemed likely. Then Norman went 68-66-69 to finish second,
and Tiger shot 62-65 to get over the top. What were we thinking?

PGA Billy Ray Brown may have finished second to Woods in the
Buick Invitational, but the $291,600 he took home was his
biggest payday by $93,600.... The key to Woods's win: He ranked
first in putting, although he's only 84th for the year.... Tim
Mickelson, 21, made like his older brother, Phil, and missed the
cut at the Buick. Tim, a sophomore at Oregon State making his
Tour debut, shot 79-72.... Henry Liaw, a 13-year-old whose 58 at
nearby Alhambra Golf Course was big news a year ago, missed
qualifying for the Buick by five strokes (he shot 72) but
planned to try again this week for the Nissan Open. If
successful, Liaw would be the youngest golfer in a Tour event by
three years.

LPGA Annika Sorenstam, once 4-0 in sudden death, lost her second
playoff in five months when she three-putted from four feet at
the Los Angeles Women's Championship. The win by fellow Swede
Catrin Nilsmark, 31, who has a 1 1/2-year-old daughter named
Tuva (translation: "piece of grass"), was her first.... Jennifer
Rosales, the '98 NCAA champ from USC, won the TRW Regional
Challenge by a shot last Wednesday in Palos Verdes, Calif., then
missed the cut by two strokes in L.A. on Saturday. Rosales, a
sophomore, is likely to turn pro this summer.

SENIOR Bruce Fleisher, whose win at the American Express
Invitational, in Sarasota, Fla., was his second straight, earned
$1.7 million in more than 400 starts on the regular Tour. He has
won about 20% of that in two weeks as a Senior. His $330,000 in
'99 is almost $100,000 more than his best year on the PGA Tour.

ALSO When Craig Spence birdied the 72nd hole at the Australian
Masters to beat Norman by a stroke, he denied the Shark a
seventh yellow jacket, but the finish was Norman's best since
undergoing surgery on his left shoulder in April.... England's
David Howell moved up 68 places to 101st in the World Ranking
with his four-shot win at the Dubai Desert Classic. The victory
was worth 42 World Ranking points, 10 fewer than Woods got for
winning the Buick.... Spanish amateur Sergio Garcia, 19, was a
shot off the lead after an opening 68 in Dubai but faded to 31st.

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY J.D. CUBAN TREE MENDOUS Woods refused to get hung up on two double bogeys in the second round.


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Bryon Bell -- Mike (Fluff) Cowan
Fans on camera -- Fans with cameras
Catrin Nilsmark -- Helen Alfredsson
Nick Faldo -- Nick Faldo
Riviera -- Valencia