Senior Women Set for 2000
NEW TOUR IN TOWN
During the 1996 U.S. Women's Open at Southern Pines, N.C., a
small group of LPGA veterans told then commissioner Jim Ritts
that they wanted to start a senior tour for players over 40.
Ritts wasn't interested. "He didn't want it," says Jan
Stephenson. "He kept saying, 'I want to push the 20-year-olds.'"
Rejected but not deterred, and inspired by the success of the
men's senior circuit, the women took things into their own hands
and formed the Medalist tour. With the support of stars such as
Amy Alcott, JoAnne Carner, Nancy Lopez and Patty Sheehan, and
sponsors like Arthur Andersen and Marshall Fields, the tour
staged seven $300,000, two-day pro-ams over the last two years,
and it will have two such events this summer. Now the seniors
want to take their tour to the next level, and under the
leadership of 27-time LPGA winner Jane Blalock they have
transformed the Medalist into the Women's Senior Golf Tour
(WSGT), a full-fledged tour that hopes to hold four $500,000
events next year, eight in 2001 and 12 in 2002.
"I sat down with Arnold Palmer, Don January and Miller Barber,
the guys who started the men's Senior tour, and asked them if
they had to do it all over again, what would they do
differently," says Stephenson. "They said, 'We made two
mistakes. First, we should have started at the age of 45; most
guys just hang out between the ages of 45 and 50 and don't
compete. And two, we should have owned it. If we would have used
a lot of our friends and called in some favors to get it
started, we would have owned it--not the PGA Tour.'"
April 25, 1999
Two weeks ago Blalock got an oral agreement from PageNet to be
the title sponsor of one 2000 event, probably in Dallas, and she
says she's close to signing deals for the other three
tournaments. What's more, the Golf Channel has expressed
interest in acquiring the tour's TV rights, and the tour has
approached the USGA about the creation of a U.S. Senior Women's
Open. "If we had waited for the LPGA to get this going, most
likely we'd all be dead," says Blalock.
Crucial to the tour's success will be the participation of
marquee players. The most significant is the 42-year-old Lopez,
who despite having won just once since 1993 still gets more fan
mail than any other LPGA player. No problem there. Lopez, one of
45 active players 40 or older, is ready to do her part. "It's
important that we have the opportunity of life after the LPGA,
like the men have life after the PGA Tour," she says. "We can
still play, but we can't keep up week-in and week-out with the
The only roadblock for the WSGT could be LPGA regulations that
stipulate that a player can get only two releases a year to play
in tournaments opposite LPGA events and that just four players
per week can be released. Blalock says that when the WSGT
finalizes its 2000 schedule, she plans to ask new LPGA
commissioner Ty Votaw to change the tour's release regulations.
"I'm optimistic that we can come together on this issue," says
Blalock. "Taking this to court would not be good publicity for
us, for women's golf and especially not for the LPGA. We need to
be working in concert with the LPGA." --Tom Hanson
Confirmed Rules Violation
CADDIE TELLS TRUTH, GETS FIRED
The three cardinal rules of caddying on the PGA Tour are show
up, keep up and shut up. Last week at the MCI Classic in Hilton
Head, S.C., Loren Duncan, Jesper Parnevik's looper, broke rule
number 3, and he was promptly fired.
After Parnevik completed his second round last Friday, a
spectator told Tour rules official Slugger White that he had
seen Parnevik use his glove to brush the line of a putt. That
would be a violation of Rule 16-1A/1, which prohibits brushing
aside or mopping up casual water in the line of a putt and would
call for a two-stroke penalty.
White found Parnevik on the practice range and asked him if the
fan was correct, but Parnevik couldn't remember. As Parnevik and
White were trying to locate the other members of Parnevik's
group--Tim Herron and Tiger Woods--they bumped into Duncan. "Did
you see Jesper brush the ground?" White asked.
"Yes," said Duncan.
White had no choice but to disqualify Parnevik, who had shot 69
that day and would have made the cut by a stroke, for having
signed an incorrect scorecard. "Duncan was very specific that
Jesper did in fact [brush the ground with his glove]," said
White, "and Jesper was a gentleman about accepting the penalty."
Parnevik, who says he had been considering parting ways with
Duncan for a couple of weeks, wasn't such a gentleman after he
was penalized. Parnevik fired him on the spot. --Gene Menez
Rating Augusta's Changes
THE PROS LOVE 15 BUT HATE 17
The great debate over the changes at Augusta National continued
to rage last week at the MCI Classic, so SI took a survey of the
players. We asked 25 pros who had played in the Masters to rate
the changes--specifically, the addition of rough and the
modifications made to the 2nd, 11th, 15th and 17th holes. The
players assigned a number (one for strongly dislike, two for
dislike, three for neutral, four for like and five for strongly
like) to each change. Four pros felt so strongly about the way
the 17th hole was altered that they gave its changes a zero
The players were almost unanimous in their support of the rough.
"Off the tee you still don't have to be too straight, but if you
are, it helps more than it used to," said Corey Pavin. Even Mark
Brooks, who gave the lowest cumulative rating (12) for the
changes, praised the 1 3/8-inch-deep second cut. "It makes you
play shots the course was designed to demand," he said. "Take
number 9. The best play into that green is a bump-and-run, and
being in the rough forces you to play that shot."
The pros also had praise for the revamped 2nd, 11th and 15th
holes, especially the 15th. "Finally  is an honest hole on
which you have to hit good shots to make birdie," said Pavin.
The only concern the players raised with 15 had to do with the
new 35-foot-high pine trees to the right of the fairway. "The
branches are so low you can barely punch out," said Brooks, who
gave the hole a 2.5 rating.
The players blistered the new 17th, which was lengthened by 25
yards and tightened on the right by the same pines that were
added to the 15th. Complaints focused on the difficulty of having
to navigate tee shots around, rather than over, Eisenhower's tree
and on keeping approach shots on the green. "The tee is way too
far back," said Lee Janzen.
"Can I give 17 a zero-minus?" asked Tom Lehman. Sure, but why?
"No comment," he said.
The only player with anything good to say about 17 was Rocco
Mediate, who played the hole in even par for the week. "I used to
have trouble driving there," he said. "Now it fits my eye
Only one player, Phil Mickelson, refused to evaluate the changes.
"It's too early to give a rating," he said, "but I question if
we're messing with history."
Second Caddie Killed
ANOTHER TRAGIC LOSS FOR DOUGLASS
During his 14 years on the Senior tour, Dale Douglass has had
only two caddies, and both of them have been killed while in town
for a tournament. The most recent death occurred at last week's
PGA Seniors Championship in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. At about
9:30 p.m. on April 13 in nearby Jupiter, Paul (Cowboy) Dayhoff
was trying to get to his hotel by crossing U.S. 1 when he was
struck by a car. Dayhoff was pronounced dead shortly after his
arrival at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach. He was
55. "Cowboy has always been very popular with everybody," said
Douglass, who withdrew from the PGA Seniors.
Dayhoff had taken over Douglass's bag from Walter (John) Gerski,
who was murdered during the May 1987 Silver Pages Classic in
Oklahoma City. After a Saturday night argument over a woman,
Gerski, 37, was shot in his hotel room by his roommate, Joe
Willie Benton, who caddied for Senior tour player James Barber.
The day after the murder Douglass shot a 70 and finished 19th.
"Walter was on my mind all day," Douglass said.
What do these players have in common?
They're the only Americans to win a major in three different
decades. Each won in the 1960s, '70s and '80s.
Will Greg Norman ever win the Masters?
--Based on 8,442 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Which is the most prestigious Senior major: the
Tradition, PGA Seniors, U.S. Senior Open or Senior Players
Championship? To vote, go to www.cnnsi.com/golf.
Hale Irwin, who tied for 11th while trying to win the PGA
Seniors for the fourth straight season, is one of only eight
players to win the same major three or more years in a row.
PLAYER/YEARS EVENT WINS
Tom Morris Jr. 1868-72* British 4
Walter Hagen 1924-27 PGA 4
Jamie Anderson 1877-79 British 3
Robert Ferguson 1880-82 British 3
Willie Anderson 1903-05 U.S. Open 3
Patty Berg 1937-39 Titleholders 3
Peter Thomson 1954-56 British 3
Hale Irwin 1996-98 PGA Seniors 3
*The British wasn't held in 1871.
Elaina Mahoney, Tucson
Mahoney, 58, a freshman at Pima Community College, finished as
high as fourth and no lower than eighth in the Aztecs' five
events--all victories--to help Pima get to the May 16-18 NJCAA
national championship in McHenry, Md. Mahoney's stroke average
is 89, and as a language major she has an A average.
Hunter Mahan, McKinney, Texas
Hunter, 16, a junior at McKinney High, won his second
consecutive American Junior Golf Association event, the
Scottsdale (Ariz.) Junior Classic. The nation's second-ranked
schoolboy, Hunter finished second in Texas's Class 4A
championship last May and in February won the Kiawah Island
Megan Bursey, Cramerton, N.C.
Megan, 15, a freshman at South Point High, is the first girl to
earn a spot on the Red Raiders' boys' team. Megan, who took up
golf only last September, has a 51.3 stroke average in three
nine-hole matches, with a low score of 47. She ranks first in
her class of 319 with a 4.5 (out of 4.0) grade point average.
PLAYER 2ND 11TH 15TH 17TH ROUGH
Billy Andrade 4 4 5 4 5
Mark Brooks 2.5 3 2.5 0 4
Bob Estes 5 5 4 3 5
Brad Faxon 3 5 4 2 3
Fred Funk 4 5 5 0 4
Jay Haas 4 4 5 2 3
Tim Herron 2 5 3 4 2
Scott Hoch 4 4 4 0 4
John Huston 4 4 3 1 1
Lee Janzen 5 4 5 2 5
Tom Lehman 4 5 4 0 5
Justin Leonard 5 4 4 2 4
Davis Love III 3 3 3 3 3
Billy Mayfair 4 5 4 3 4
Rocco Mediate 5 3 5 3.5 5
Larry Mize 5 5 5 2 4
Jesper Parnevik 3 5 2 3 3
Craig Parry 4 4 5 2 5
Steve Pate 5 4 4 1 4
Corey Pavin 5 2 5 3 5
Jeff Sluman 5 4 5 4 3
Craig Stadler 3 4 5 1.5 4
Payne Stewart 5 4 5 1 5
Bob Tway 5 5 5 5 5
Average 4.1 4.2 4.2 2.2 4.0