Long Drive Finals
Going the Distance
Although most of his competitors tower over him, 5'10", 225-pound
Jason Zuback has set the bar as high in long-driving competitions
as Tiger Woods has on the Tour. It's not that the 30-year-old
Zuback, who goes for a record fifth consecutive World Long Drive
Championship Oct. 18-21 in Mesquite, Nev., is more powerful than
his opponents. Last month, for example, Mike Moulton, of San
Bernardino, Calif., hit three drives between 445 and 449 yards at
a long-drive event in Fresno, while Zuback's career-best is 412
yards. His secret is a swing built for accuracy and consistency,
and a knack for producing his best shots when the pressure is the
Sound familiar? "It's great to be compared to Tiger," says
Zuback, whose ball speed has been measured at 210.4 mph on a
launch monitor, while Woods clocks in at 184 mph. "I love
everything about the guy, except when they say he's the longest
driver in golf. He's not; I am."
Zuback, who lives in Calgary, is a former powerlifter. Despite
neck and shoulder injuries, he can still bench-press 405 pounds.
He pumps iron two hours a day, five days a week. His training
regimen also includes five-hour sessions on the practice tee,
where he launches high, left-to-right vapor trails with a driver
that has 5 1/2 degrees of loft and a 47 1/2-inch graphite shaft
with quintuple-extra-stiff flex.
October 15, 2000
Zuback looks more like a football player than a golfer, which is
the trend among long drivers. "It's starting to look like the WWF
out here," says Brian Pavlet, the '93 national champ who came in
second to Zuback last year and holds the record drive in the
World Championship, a poke of 435 yards. "We've got a new breed
of guys who go straight from the practice range to the gym."
The most promising of them is the 6'5", 255-pound Moulton, 25. He
competed against Woods in junior events in Southern California,
played three years for Bakersfield Junior College and one year at
Cal State-San Bernardino and has had no trouble finding work as a
bouncer. "Tiger could spank it pretty good, but I was always the
freak of the tournament," says Moulton. He survived two rounds
last year at Mesquite, but at an unburnished 225 pounds was
overmatched physically. He added the 30 pounds of muscle by
lifting three hours a day, six days a week at a gym near his
home. "Basically, I dedicated myself like David Duval did last
year," he says.
Moulton sees an added benefit from his workout regimen. "Jason is
a physical specimen, but his big advantage is the way he can get
in the zone under pressure," says Moulton. "That's how Tiger is,
and it's no accident that both Jason and Tiger outwork everyone.
That's where they get that extra mental toughness."
Long drivers, like Tour players, are not tested for drugs, and no
performance-enhancing substances are banned. Pavlet, for one,
thinks it's time to take some precautions. "I'm not accusing
anyone, but as big and thick as some of these guys are, you have
to wonder if there's been some use of steroids or human growth
hormone," says the 32-year-old Pavlet, who at 6'4" and 215 is on
the lean side for a long driver.
Moulton and Zuback admit they have used creatine and other
protein supplements but not performance-enhancing drugs. "I'd be
fine with a banned substance list, but I don't think it's really
needed in golf," says Zuback. "There are a lot more factors at
work than raw strength, and getting a 60-inch chest and benching
550 pounds would actually slow down your swing."
With only one six-figure purse--the $275,000 World Championship,
which pays the winner $75,000--all year, the sport is not a
lucrative one. If Zuback does get a fifth title, he hopes that a
chance to put long driving on the map will come along with it.
That, of course, would be a one-on-one showdown with Woods.
No amount of acting can hide a reverse pivot
We'll soon see how plausible two nongolfers, Helen Hunt and Matt
Damon (above), are in roles as accomplished players. In Dr. T
and the Women, opening Oct. 13, Hunt plays a teaching pro who
falls in love with her gynecologist. In The Legend of Bagger
Vance, to be released on Nov. 3, Damon portrays Rannulph Junah,
a World War I hero practicing for a 1931 match with Walter Hagen
and Bobby Jones. To prepare, Hunt took lessons for two months
while Damon spent a month with a pro at Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Golfers, though, are a tough crowd when it comes to spotting
Hollywood's false notes. Here are my favorite movies that use
the game as a backdrop--ranked in order of the golf's
authenticity--along with the telling detail that caught my eye.
1. Dead Solid Perfect (1988). Randy Quaid plays Kenny Lee, a
bottom-feeding pro who wins the U.S. Open. Quaid, a single-digit
handicapper at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, has the
easy, broad-shouldered manner of a Tour pro as well as the best
swing of any actor in a golf movie. TELLING DETAIL: The name of
the millionaire mark played by Jack Warden, Bad Hair Wimberly,
2. Pat and Mike (1952). Katherine Hepburn carries herself with
the grace of the amateur champ she plays, and her swing, while
plagued by a reverse pivot, has enough speed to be convincing.
There are great scenes at Riviera Country Club with Babe
Didrikson Zaharias, who gave Hepburn lessons. TELLING DETAIL:
Hepburn, in a fit of pique, hits nine balls in 10 seconds, the
last a corker that goes at least 200 yards.
3. The Caddy (1953). Dean Martin was never better than a six
handicapper, but his stylish swing makes him credible as a
topflight golfer competing at Pebble Beach. Jerry Lewis, between
his relentless shtick, shows a swing technique better than
Martin's. TELLING DETAIL: A down-the-target-line shot of Hogan,
in his prime, burning a low fairway wood shot under some branches
is a beauty.
4. Tin Cup (1996). After a three-month crash course from Gary
McCord, the athletic Kevin Costner nearly pulled off his role as
a pro from Texas. Only his outside-in (slicer's) swing gives him
away. TELLING DETAIL: There's just one word to describe the
closing scene in which Costner blows the U.S. Open in stubborn
pursuit of the perfect shot: dumb.
5. Follow the Sun (1951). Glenn Ford plays Hogan in a confection
of the golfer's career up to his comeback, but the unathletic
Ford's cramped swing nearly kills the Hogan Mystique (plus,
Hogan's trademark tam-o'-shanter sits on Ford's head like a
pillow). The film has some effective Ford-to-Hogan cutaways.
TELLING DETAIL: I can't imagine Hogan whining, "A hundred
trophies and not a friend left in the world," as Ford does.
6. Caddyshack (1980). Michael O'Keefe, playing caddie Danny
Noonan, has a free-flowing, powerful swing, and so does Bill
Murray--when he's wielding a weed cutter. The rest of the movie is
so bad it's good. TELLING DETAIL: Layabout country-clubber Chevy
Chase's advice to Danny--"Be the ball"--skewers golf's pretentious
7. Goldfinger (1964). Sean Connery caught the golf bug while
preparing for the scene in which Bond takes on the title
character, Gert Frobe. A stand-in performs Goldfinger's powerful
swing, but Connery shows 007-like competence (although he, too,
has a reverse pivot). TELLING DETAIL: The movie gets it wrong
when Goldfinger stands over a one-foot putt for 15 seconds before
missing badly and then casually runs in a 15-footer on the next
8. Happy Gilmore (1996). As Happy, a big-hitting hockey player
turned golfer, Adam Sandler spoofs every convention of tournament
golf. Happy Gilmore might be all slapstick and antigolf, but I
dare you not to laugh. TELLING DETAIL: Sandler's caddie, played
by Jared Van Snellenberg, is a homeless man who eagerly pockets
coins used as ball markers.
What do these players have in common?
They're the only members of the 2000 International team who will
have played in every Presidents Cup.
Who should be the Senior tour player of the year?
--Based on 2,434 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Is it fair that U.S. players are expected
to play in both the Presidents and Ryder Cups? Vote at
Based on the money list, here are the biggest winners and losers
on Tour this year. The first group comprises players among the
current top 125 money winners who have made the biggest jump up
the list in 2000. (Since none earned a cent on Tour in '99, we
ranked them 340th, or last, in earnings a year ago.) The second
group consists of pros from last year's top 125 who have fallen
the most spots on the list in '00.
1999 2000 Plus/Minus
Michael Clark 340th 47th +293
Brad Elder 340th 59th +281
Joel Edwards 340th 62nd +278
Matt Gogel 340th 75th +265
Carl Paulson 340th 90th +250
Scott Gump 40th 171st -131
Ted Tryba 20th 140th -120
Steve Elkington 35th 146th -111
Tommy Tolles 86th 188th -102
Jay Delsing 91st 182nd -91
Pat Bradley's insistence that Annika Sorenstam replay the wedge
shot that she had holed on Sunday is good for the Solheim Cup.
It's these sort of ruthless decisions and their acrimonious
aftermaths that are the life force of team events. Come to think
of it, something down and dirty is precisely what the friendly
and floundering Presidents Cup needs.
Mina Hardin, Fort Worth
Hardin, 40, was victorious in the Texas Amateur for the fourth
time in the last five years. The defending champ at Mira Vista
Country Club since 1997 and at Shady Oaks Country Club since
'99, Harden, a former pro who regained her amateur status in
'91, was the first Mexican citizen to play on the LPGA tour, in
Claudeen Lindberg, Atlanta
Lindberg, 61, beat Shannon Silvernail of Macon in a playoff to
become the oldest winner of the state Women's Amateur. Lindberg
is the reigning champ at Cherokee Town and Country Club since
'90, the year she began playing. The former tennis pro reached
the quarterfinals of this year's U.S. Senior Women's Amateur.
Frank Vana Jr., Shrewsbury, Mass.
Vana, 38, shot an even-par 142 at Sterling Country Club to beat
Brendan Hester of Worcester to win his second straight state
Mid-Amateur. An insurance salesman, Vana was the state's
top-ranked amateur in '94 and '95, and was named the
Massachusetts Golf Association player of the decade.
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