COOL HAND LUKE
The British tabloids, knowing a successor to Nick Faldo when
they see one, have begun to dog Luke Donald, the 21-year-old
sophomore at Northwestern who is TAKING U.S. BY STORM, as the
Express put it in a recent headline. Last week Donald gave them
more to crow about, winning the NCAA championship at Hazeltine
National in Chaska, Minn., by three strokes over Georgia's Ryuji
Hazeltine's length and deep rough combined with four days of
wind to send scores soaring, which made Donald's four-under
total of 284 all the more impressive. Only two other players,
Imada and Washington's Troy Kelly, finished under par. Champion
Georgia's total of 28 over par was 62 strokes worse the 34 under
UNLV fired to win in 1998.
Among the casualties at Hazeltine was Edward Loar, Oklahoma
State's No. 1 player, who in the opening round hit three balls
into Lake Hazeltine on the par-4 16th hole on his way to a
quintuple-bogey 9. His score of 10-over 82 was one better than
that of Matt Kuchar, the Georgia Tech junior and 1997 U.S.
Amateur champion, who shot 83-76. Kuchar's teammate Bryce
Molder, the No. 1 player in the nation going into last week,
shot 77-77. After winning the East Regional title by nine
strokes the week before, the third-ranked Yellow Jackets shot a
two-day total of 50 over par and missed the cut. "The problem
is," said Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler, "there just aren't
any birdie holes."
Not for Heppler's boys, anyway. His in-state neighbors from
Athens, specifically fourth-ranked Imada, found a few, however.
Imada made a 70-foot eagle putt on the 542-yard par-5 7th hole
in Saturday's final round and fired a five-under 67--one shot
off the course record and equal to the lowest score at the 1991
U.S. Open at Hazeltine--to lead the top-ranked Bulldogs to a
three-stroke win over Oklahoma State. "[Imada] won the golf
tournament for Georgia," said Cowboys sophomore Charles Howell,
who played in the final group with Donald and the Bulldog
sophomore and finished fifth. "That was a phenomenal round."
Imada, in fact, had a chance to become the first player to win
both the individual and team titles in the same year since Phil
Mickelson of Arizona State in 1990. Imada made up seven strokes
on Donald in the first eight holes on Saturday, and the two of
them reached the 14th tee tied at two under. The Englishman
remained unflappable, however, and pulled away, sinking 15- and
25-foot birdie putts on the 14th and 15th holes, respectively.
"He never stopped playing his game," said Northwestern coach Pat
Goss. "I was more nervous than he was."
Donald's stroke average of 70.45 this season bettered Tiger
Woods's 1996 NCAA mark of 70.61, which is just another reason
British pundits expect big things from him. But though
comparisons to Faldo seem inevitable, Donald appears to have a
more multidimensional personality. Donald has done some abstract
painting at Northwestern, and he has been known to amuse his
mates by doing magic tricks. Last winter, while he putted and
chipped for two hours a day, six days a week, in the Wildcats'
2,375-square-foot indoor short-game practice facility, he
listened to Bach and Mozart on a Walkman. This pleases his
father, Colin, and his mum, Ann, who are elated that their Luke,
the youngest of their four children, has so many interests and
that he'll continue to pursue them, at least for the next two
years. "He'll stay in university," says Colin. "Not like Tiger."
Grace Park Turns Pro
OLD WAVERLY'S NEW WAVE
A highly decorated amateur announced loud and clear at last
week's U.S. Women's Open that she will be a force on the LPGA
tour. But it wasn't Jenny Chuasiriporn, who in her first start
as a pro missed the cut (77-74) by seven strokes. Rather, it was
Grace Park, the freshly crowned NCAA champion from Arizona
State, who flirted with the lead and the viewing public's
attention last week at Old Waverly Country Club in West Point,
Park, who tied for eighth, declared on Monday that she will
forgo her final two years of college, and a title defense at the
U.S. Amateur in August, to turn pro. "I've played in LPGA
events; I know I can play at the next level," says Park, 20, who
averaged 263.3 yards off the tee and led the field in driving
distance at Old Waverly. "My goal is to obtain my card without
going to Q school next fall."
That's Chuasiriporn's goal, too, but the similarities between
the two end there. While Chuasiriporn will play the LPGA tour
this season on sponsors' exemptions--she has accepted
invitations to play the Jamie Farr, Michelob Light and JAL this
summer--and enter only a few Futures tour events, Park's place
is the Futures. The erstwhile Sun Devil says she'll play the
next four Futures events, take a week off, then play four more
Futures events in hopes of cracking the top three on that tour's
money list and getting her LPGA tour card. "If I get hot,
anything can happen," says Park, whose second-round 67 left her
only three shots off the lead at the halfway point, and who
earned an automatic invite to next year's Open with her top 20
finish. "I know that half the season is gone. I have a lot of
catching up to do."
The Open's Augusta Roots
BIKINI WAX AND PINEHURST NO. 2
Take the wavy greens at Pinehurst No. 2, add a pinch of Augusta
National's lightning-fast surfaces, and what do you have? A lot
of three-putts in next week's U.S. Open.
When Pinehurst creator Donald Ross molded No. 2's steep greens
in 1901, he did so knowing that their relatively shaggy bermuda
grass would keep them playable. This year, however, Pinehurst is
hosting the Open in large measure because in 1996 it resurfaced
its greens with a new bentgrass strain called Penn G-2. This
heat-shielded bentgrass, which was discovered on Augusta
National's par-3 course a decade ago, isn't supposed to wilt in
the hot summers that have historically kept the Open above the
Mason-Dixon line. Greenkeepers predict that the players are more
likely to wilt when they see this slick new grass; there's even
talk of keeping the greens long to slow them down.
When Bobby Jones selected rival Alister Mackenzie to design the
home of the Masters, Ross felt passed over. While the putts are
rolling off his greens next week, Ross may be rolling over in
his grave. --John F. Lauerman
Allen Doyle's Painful Win
BACK AT IT; ROOKIE WINS AGAIN
Sometimes you've got to play hurt. At last week's Cadillac NFL
Golf Classic at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, N.J.,
Allen Doyle made like an NFL tough guy--or in his case, an NHL
tough guy--and ignored back spasms to beat Joe Inman with a par
on the fourth hole of sudden death. He didn't suffer alone.
Southern Mississippi golfer Erin Doyle, 19, lugged her dad's
clubs for 54 holes despite a stress fracture in her left arm,
which she had gotten from beating balls.
Doyle and daughter were quite a sight. Erin, whose injury put a
major crimp in her amateur tournament plans this summer, wore an
elbow-length black cast on her arm; Allen wore a pained
expression as he gingerly played the back nine on Sunday. "I
could see at impact on his tee shot at 10 that he was hurting
really bad," Erin said. "I was worried for him on every shot
after that. It hurt him just to bend over and pick up the tee."
Doyle made 15 birdies in the first and second rounds, but was in
such pain on Saturday night that he said he might be birdied
out. Actually, he was bogeyed out. He made just one birdie on
Sunday, but that and 17 pars were enough to get him into a
playoff--his worst nightmare--with Inman, who fired a 66. Doyle
trudged on, with his daughter alongside. Four more pars, and he
was a winner.
"I saw what Joe was doing, but on the back nine [I was feeling
so bad] there was nothing I could do about it," said Doyle,
whose third victory of '99 vaulted him to the top of the Senior
tour money list ($1,036,364), ahead of Bruce Fleisher. "I just
kept making par after par and hung in there. Par was my friend."
What do these players have in common?
They're the only three to win back-to-back U.S. Women's Amateur
championships since World War II. Cockerill won in 1986 and '87;
Inkster in '80, '81 and '82; and Kuehne in '95 and '96.
Will Jack Nicklaus win again?
--Based on 1,588 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Will Tiger Woods win next week's U.S. Open? To
vote, go to www.cnnsi.com/golf.
You don't have to be a scrambler to win, but as Tiger Woods
proved at the Memorial, it doesn't hurt. Pinehurst's sloping
greens will be hard to hold at next week's U.S. Open, so here's
a look at the top five on the money list and their scrambling
rank, and the top five scramblers and their money rank, in '99.
MONEY LEADERS SCRAMBLING
1. David Duval 49th
2. Tiger Woods 51st
3. Jeff Maggert 13th
4. Vijay Singh 30th
5. Davis Love III 20th
SCRAMBLING LEADERS MONEY
1. Mike Reid 78th
2. Nick Price 20th
3. Jeff Sluman 8th
4. Bob Estes 26th
5. Tim Herron 16th
In recent weeks, the LPGA's Juli Inkster won her first U.S. Open
on her 20th try, Carlos Franco won his first PGA Tour event at
age 33, and Susan Lucci, after 19 nominations, won her first
daytime Emmy. Here are five other firsts we'd like to see.
U.S. Open After 54 starts without a victory in the U.S., Colin
Montgomerie (left) mollifies Pinehurst hecklers by
wearing Tar Heel blue and Jordan cologne and becomes
the first Scot to win the Open since Simpson.
British Open Justin Rose, subsisting on English food stamps and
Marmite, makes his first cut since turning pro a
year earlier, wins, gets his Eurotour card and
pockets more Euros than he can count.
PGA Three weeks shy of 50, Tom Watson makes a
Championship four-footer to win the only major to elude him, on
his 28th try, then jets home to Kansas City and
buys the Royals.
Q school Harry Taylor, whose record of 17 appearances in the
PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament finals is equalled
only by Mac O'Grady, makes his 18th finals--and wins,
getting his card, plus a $50,000 first-place check.
AT&T For the first time in 26 years, Jack Lemmon makes
Pebble Beach the cut with Peter Jacobsen. Lemmon dances in a
bunker and Grumpiest Old Men gets an Oscar.
Ed Kriwiel, Wichita, Kans.
Kriwiel, 72, the boys' coach at Kapaun Mount Carmel High, guided
the Crusaders to their third consecutive Class 5A state title
and their 20th since he started coaching the team in 1970.
Kriwiel also led Kapaun's football team to nine state
championships and a 204-41 record in 22 seasons.
Cindy Carroll, Carefree, Ariz.
Carroll, 53, a three handicapper, won the Arizona Women's Match
Play. In 1998 Carroll, who didn't take up golf until age 30, won
the Arizona, Texas and Western senior amateurs as well as her
second straight--and third overall--Southwestern Golf
Association amateur title.
Scott Watson, Sacramento
Watson, 27, won the prestigious Stocker Cup, played on the
Monterey Peninsula at Fort Ord, Pebble Beach and Spanish Bay.
Watson, the 1997 and '98 Northern California Golf Association
player of the year, and partner Andre Buckles, 55, of Columbus,
Ohio, won the Stocker's team division.