No. 1-ranked Bryce Molder
This is an article from the May 7, 2001 issue
Bryce Molder is a tortoise among hares. Last year when vaunted
collegians David Gossett (Texas) and Charles Howell III (Oklahoma
State) bolted for the pro circuits, Molder remained at Georgia
Tech for his senior year. This year, while neither of his more
celebrated counterparts has reached the PGA Tour, Molder, 22, has
become the top-ranked college golfer in the country and is about
as dominant in his world as Tiger Woods is in his.
This season Molder has shot scores of 60 and 62, averaged fewer
than 70 strokes per round and won three tournaments while coming
in second in three others. He has joined Gary Hallberg, Phil
Mickelson and David Duval as the only four-time All-Americas and
is on track to become the only one of the four to also make
academic All-America and the dean's list. "I always wanted to
enjoy college for four years, and I have," a satisfied Molder
said on Friday after taking his last final.
At the May 30-June 2 NCAA Championships in Durham, N.C., Molder,
a native of Conway, Ark., will try to provide a perfect ending by
helping the second-ranked Yellow Jackets regain the team title
they lost to Oklahoma State last year in a sudden-death playoff.
He'll also try to win his first individual title. Win or lose,
Molder will wait until after the Walker Cup (Aug. 11-12) and the
U.S. Amateur (Aug. 20-26) to turn pro.
Molder says his bottom-line reason for waiting was simple: "My
game wasn't ready." He realized that after playing in the '99
U.S. Open at Pinehurst, where he missed the cut. Molder concluded
that he wasn't straight enough off the tee and that his swing was
too unreliable for him to succeed on Tour.
At the same time, he says, "I came away believing that I can do
this." So Molder embarked on a two-pronged program not unlike the
one Woods went on when he turned pro. First, Molder hit the
weight room. Born with Poland's syndrome, a congenital disorder
that results in abnormalities in the chest and hands, Molder has
no pectoral muscle on his left side. When he was four, he
underwent surgery to remove webbing between the index and middle
fingers of his left hand, which is smaller than his right. "Bryce
compensated wonderfully with his right side," says his instructor
of eight years, Dan Snider, "but we always knew he would have to
get stronger on his left side to make a better swing. After
Pinehurst, he said, 'It's time.'" Since then Molder has been a
workout fiend, putting muscle on his 6'1", 170-pound frame and
targeting his left side with extra sets of lifts.
As he gained strength, Molder dedicated 2000 to the painstaking
task of making technical changes. "He was very mature about it,"
says Snider, the head pro at Chenal Country Club near Little
Rock. "He knew it would cause short-term inconsistency, but
Bryce has always taken the long-term approach."
Once the fall college season got under way, Molder was in a
groove. In October he shot 62 while winning the Jerry Pate
Intercollegiate. A month later he shot 60 to cap another victory
in the Rolex/Golf World Invitational.
"Since I've improved my strength and swing, I haven't hit many
real bad shots," says Molder. "I've had a lot more rounds without
a bogey, so if I get on a run, I can go low."
Also vital to the equation is Molder's levelheadedness. Molder
has curly blond hair and bears a slight resemblance to Colin
Montgomerie, but his teammates call him Monty because his
temperament is the opposite of the raging Scot's. His maturity
came with a price. When Molder was 14, his sister, Kelli, who
was 21 months older, died after contracting meningitis. "Losing
his sister caused Bryce to take a deep look," says his father,
Barry Molder. "It made him a better person."
A person who understands that slow and steady can win the race.
The khaki and cotton uniform is history, or so says a slew of
players who've brought a fresh look to the women's tours. We
asked L.A.-based stylist Jeanne Yang for an assessment
"Avant-garde. The belly button showing is a by-product of
choosing fashion over comfort."
"It's not a look I prefer for golf. She shows too much. You can
be wild in silhouette or in your pattern, but don't go too short
with the shorts. The fairway shouldn't be a runway."
"Her hair--the nice clean braid--and the white visor work with the
black in her outfit and tie in with the white in her shoes. The
look goes along with golf's upper-crust tradition but is still
very stylish and not at all a cliche."
"She's wearing a traditional golf outfit--color-coordinated--but
with some interesting twists. Her top has a collar, yet it's
almost a tank top."
"The tight fit is great. I get the feeling it's true to who she
is, which is the secret to being stylish. She's right on the edge
without going over. She has just the right accent on that braided
"She reminds me of a figure skater, with the new, form-fitting
fabrics. Her top is really eye-catching. Her outfit is elegant
Soo Yun Kang
"The hat isn't for golf, it's for Sunday tea, so it's really
sweet, especially with the braids. There's something not
totally innocent about her look."
What do these players have in common?
They've hit the longest drives since the PGA Tour began tracking
the statistic in 1992. Smith launched a 427-yarder off the tee
at the '99 Honda Classic; Martin hit a 409-yarder at this year's
Tucson Open; and Zorkic nailed a 391-yarder at the '98 Houston
Would you like to see a tour-level event in which both men and
--Based on 2,973 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Tiger Woods is on a four-week break. Should Tour
players be required to play at least once every four tournaments?
Vote at golfplus.cnnsi.com.
Bryce Molder and Arizona State freshman Lorena Ochoa are on
track to set NCAA records with season averages of 69.39 and
71.60, respectively. Here are the best averages since Golfstat
began tracking scoring in the 1994-95 season.
Charles Howell III, Okla. Ste., 99-00 69.57
Luke Donald, Northwestern, 99-00 69.86
Luke Donald, Northwestern, 98-99 70.00
Bryce Molder, Georgia Tech, 99-00 70.01
Jenna Daniels, Arizona, 99-00 71.71
Grace Park, Arizona State, 98-99 71.73
Marisa Baena, Arizona, 96-97 72.28
Wendy Ward, Arizona State, 94-95 72.37
The R&A has taken the right approach on regulating springlike
effect, and the USGA should swallow its pride and join in. The
USGA's restrictions on hot drivers are narrow, divisive and
misguided. The simplest and most intelligent way to keep pros and
elite amateurs from overpowering a course is to have them play
with a geared-down tournament ball. That would allow the rest of
us to enjoy the benefits of technological innovations.
Stephanie Keever, Las Vegas
Keever, a senior at Stanford and a 2000 Curtis Cup member, won
her second title this season, at the Ping ASU Invitational in
Phoenix. In February, Keever set the women's course record at
Tucson's Raven Golf Club at Sabino Springs with a seven-under 65
in the third round of the Wildcat Invitational, at which she tied
Tracy Harris, Little Rock
Harris, 37, a salesman for a distribution company, made an eagle
and three birdies over the last six holes en route to a two-under
70 in the final round and a two-shot win in the 36-hole Stone
Links Masters in North Little Rock. The 1997 Arkansas Amateur
champ came out on top in four Arkansas Golf Association events in
Eden Anderson, Berkeley, Calif.
Anderson, 23, took the San Francisco City Championship at Lincoln
Park Golf Course with a 4-and-2 defeat of Kishui Liao, 13, of
Alameda. Anderson, who finished runner-up in the city finals last
year, is a three-time Academic All-America and a recent grad of
California who will begin law school there in August.
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