Golf : Southern California’s Winter Season Opens This Week With Bob Hope Classic

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The busiest winter golf season in Southern California history will open this week with the $500,000 Bob Hope Classic--90 holes of fun in the sun--as 128 professionals match shots with 384 amateurs on four desert courses, Tamarisk, Bermuda Dunes, La Quinta and Indian Wells.

Between the Hope and the MONY Tournament of Champions in May, 10 major PGA, LPGA and Seniors tournaments will showcase just about every professional golfer, man, woman and oldtimer, worth watching. At stake will be $3.5 million in purse money.

Defending champion John Mahaffey and former winners Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer headline entries in the five-day Hope marathon, during which professionals rotate courses with three different amateur partners on each of the first four days. On Sunday, only the 70 low pros return for a final 18 holes at Indian Wells for the $90,000 first prize.


A number of celebrities, including former President Gerald Ford, House Speaker Tip O’Neill, baseball’s Johnny Bench and entertainers Andy Williams, Vic Damone, Johnny Mathis, Buddy Rogers, Telly Savalas and Hope himself, will be sprinkled among the amateur groups.

The Los Angeles Open, the traditional opening event on the men’s tour for 40 years until it was moved to a later spot on the schedule in 1974, is back nearer the front again. The $400,000 tournament, sponsored by the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce, will be played Jan. 24-27, making it the third of the year after the Hope Classic and the Phoenix Open. It will again be played at the Riviera Country Club, where it has been every year but one since 1973.

New events for seniors and women have created the increase in tournament activity.

The seniors (50 and over) will come to Los Angeles for the first time March 28-31 with a tournament with the longest name in golf: Johnny Mathis American Golf Carta Blanca Seniors Classic. The $250,000 event will be played at the relatively new MountainGate Country Club course just off the San Diego Freeway, near Mulholland Dr., in West Los Angeles. MountainGate opened in 1976.

Four LPGA tournaments, including two new ones, will keep the women professionals in Southern California for most of April and May. The new events, the $250,000 GNA at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale and the $175,000 Kyocera Inamori at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club in San Diego, are sandwiched around the $400,000 Nabisco Dinah Shore tournament--richest on the women’s tour--at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage.

The Fairbanks course may look familiar to Olympic Games equestrian fans. It was the site of the colorful endurance phase of the three-day competition, and several of the jumps used on the obstacle course are still visible on the golf course.

The Southern California schedule, including site and purse:

Jan. 9-13--Bob Hope Classic, $500,000, Indian Wells (host course), Bermuda Dunes, La Quinta, Tamarisk (Palm Desert area).


Jan. 24-27--Los Angeles Open, $400,000, Riviera.

Feb. 14-17--Isuzu-Andy Williams San Diego Open, $400,000, Torrey Pines.

March 7-10--Uniden LPGA Invitational, $330,000, Mesa Verde (Costa Mesa).

March 14-17--The Vintage Seniors Invitational, $300,000, Vintage Club (Palm Desert).

March 21-24--GMA LPGA Classic, $250,000, Oakmont (Glendale).

March 28-31--Johnny Mathis American Golf Carta Blanca Seniors Classic, $250,000, MountainGate (West Los Angeles).

April 4-7--Nabisco Dinah Shore LPGA, $400,000, Mission Hills (Rancho Mirage).

April 11-14--Kyocera Inamori LPGA Classic, $175,000, Fairbanks Ranch (San Diego).

May 2-5--MONY Tournament of Champions, $400,000, La Costa (Carlsbad). Also MONY Seniors Tournament of Champions, $100,000.

Golf Notes

It almost figured that Greg Twiggs and Jeff Hart would be tied after 108 holes in the rugged PGA tour qualifying tournament at Mission Hills and La Quinta Hotel. Both earned their tour cards with 431 scores. In the 1981 Southern California Amateur, Twiggs sank a 15-foot putt on the final hole to break a tie with Hart, and in the 1984 California Open, Twiggs birdied the first playoff hole to defeat Hart again. Tour qualifiers included two from USC, Hart and Ron Commans, two from UCLA, Steve Pate and Jay Delsing, and two from San Diego State,Twiggs and Lennie Clements. Other Southland qualifiers included Mark Wiebe of Escondido and Ernie Gonzalez of Chula Vista. . . . They will have some rookie record to shoot at as former UCLA star Corey Pavin of Oxnard earned $260,536 in his first year on the tour, breaking Hal Sutton’s mark of $237,434. When Pavin was named PGA rookie of the year, it made a clean sweep for Los Angeles schools since Maria Figueras-Dotti of USC won the same award in the LPGA. Figueras-Dotti, a native of Spain, won $93,655.

Lee Trevino, who won the PGA tournament last summer and ended a three year losing streak caused in part by back surgery, has been named MONY comeback player of the year by West Coast sportswriters and broadcasters. Trevino, 44, will be honored Monday at La Costa, where he won the 1981 Tournament of Champions, his last tour win before the ’84 PGA. . . . Mark O’Meara, second leading money winner last year, is the defending champion for the Day With the All-Americans tournament Tuesday at The Club at Morningside in Palm Springs. Trevino, who will not play in the Hope because he will be doing NBC telecasts, will play at Morningside along with Lanny Wadkins, Craig Stadler, Fred Couples and others. Proceeds will go toward scholarships for the All-American Collegiate Golf Foundation. . . . Lee Elder, who won two Seniors tournaments last year as a rookie, was the first entry for the Johnny Mathis tournament at MountainGate CC. . . . The Golden State Pro Tour will plays a 54-hole event Jan. 16-18 at Lakewood CC. . . . Ed Trisler defeated Phil Macartney for the Santa Anita club crown. . . . Professionals Tom Kite, Bruce Lietzke and Bill Rogers will play a four-hole exhibition during Friendly Hills’ annual benefit tournament Monday, Jan. 21. Entries are still available for $175 in the five-man scrambles to benefit the Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital, Child Guidance Center and Boys and Girls Clubs of Whittier. Last year’s event raised $23,000.

Riviera pro Ron Rhoads is recuperating at home from a heart attack and is expected back at the course in about six weeks. . . . UCLA will opens its 1985 schedule Sunday, Jan. 20, by hosting the UCLA-Bill Bryant Memorial tournament on the Eisenhower course at Industry Hills. The Bruins, ranked No. 3 after winning three of seven fall tournaments, are led by California Amateur champion Duffy Waldorf, who won individual honors in the Americana Invitational and William H. Tucker tournaments. . . . The SoCal Left Handed Golfers Assn. will open its season Sunday, Jan. 13, with a lefty-righty tournament at Fallbrook. . . . The 16th annual Bobby Winkles Invitational is scheduled Monday at Indian Hills and Jurupa Hills in Riverside with proceeds going to the Riverside City College athletic program. . . . Jimmy Duggan, 86, a former president of the Griffith Park Men’s Club and a player on city courses for more than 50 years, died Dec. 27 at his home in Glendale. . . . Two amateurs can earn the right to play in the Isuzu-Andy Williams San Diego Open in an 18 hole qualifying tournament Saturday on the South Torrey Pines course.