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1995 / 77th PGA RIVIERA : The Back Nine

A look at golf’s backside, the stories you were never meant to see.

THE FUNNY LANNY

Lanny Wadkins, this year’s Ryder Cup captain, was a good friend of Mickey Mantle’s. In fact, on July 6, Wadkins played 36 holes at Preston Trails in Dallas and Mantle rode in the cart the entire time.

Sunday, Wadkins recalled his favorite Mantle story: “Mickey and Billy Martin had driven down to a ranch owned by a friend of Mickey’s for some deer hunting. Mickey goes into the house and checks with his friend to see if it was OK. It was, but Mickey’s friend asked him if he could do him a favor. The man had an old sick mule and wondered if Mickey could shoot the mule to save his friend the trouble.

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“Mickey agreed but thought he’d play a joke on Martin. He goes back out and is yelling and acting real angry. ‘The guy won’t let us hunt,’ Mickey says, ‘But, I’ll show him. I’m going to kill one of his mules.’

“Mickey goes one way and Martin the other. Mickey is about to shoot the mule when he hears ‘bam, bam.’ Martin comes around the corner with a big smile and says, ‘This will show him, I just got two of his cows too.’

“And Mickey swore this story was true.”

THE NOT-SO-FUNNY LANNY

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Wadkins rose a few eyebrows this week with his temper. On Friday, he was so angry after one shot that he broke the head on his driver. A television worker also reported him kicking at cables and stakes.

One marshal, who witnessed his club-breaking exhibition, said: “This is our Ryder Cup captain. Temper, temper. I have a son in junior golf and if he had done that he would have gotten a DQ.”

THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE

Twenty-five marshals, most of whom worked the tournament all week, were surveyed to find the friendliest and unfriendliest players. There was remarkable unanimity among the top picks in both categories.

Fuzzy Zoeller was the easy first choice for friendliest. His continual joking and kidding had him listed on almost every ballot. Second was Peter Jacobsen, followed by Tom Kite. Jacobsen edged Kite on the strength of an imitation he does of Craig Stadler where he puts a bucket of balls inside his shirt by his stomach.

John Daly and Corey Pavin also would have made the list, but there was a three-round minimum for consideration.

It was a very close vote for unfriendliest between Nick Faldo and Curtis Strange. But Faldo won on an incident on the seventh hole when he made a sign carrier, some 60 yards to his rear, move because it was bothering him.

Wadkins was selected the third unfriendliest and Jack Nicklaus finished fourth.

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PICTURE-PERFECT GALLERY

The galleries this week were widely praised as being very well behaved and nothing like your typical Ball Night group at Dodger Stadium.

The only incident was Friday, when Fred Couples was getting ready to hit a shot when a camera clicked. Only media cameras, with strict rules on when you can shoot, are allowed on the course once the tournament starts. Couples turned to the man and asked him if he had a badge to use that camera. The man said no and Couples told him to put the lens cap on and stop shooting.

Ed Motokane, a marshal on the third tee, picks up the story: “Ernie Els is in the middle of his backswing [on the third tee] when you hear a camera click. Couples says, ‘It’s that guy again.’ And then Davis Love says, ‘Marshal, take that camera away from him.’ So, I turn around and start looking for a marshal. I forgot I was a marshal.

“Finally, I walk over to the guy and ask for his camera and tell him, ‘We’re going to keep it here, you can come back at the end of the day and get it back.’ The guy says, ‘Naw, go ahead and keep it.’ ”

Motokane turned in the unclaimed camera at the end of the day. Its current whereabouts are unknown.

SEE YA LATER, RIVIERA

So, you’ve been practicing on your crummy, torn-up carpet at home and believe that qualifies you to give Riviera’s greens a try? Here’s what it takes. The one-time membership fee is $75,000. It’s not an equity membership either, so that’s money you’ll never get back. Then there are the dues, which for gold members are about $500 a month.

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There are about 750 golf-playing members and Riviera is very good about not discriminating against anyone. There are no tee times, you just show up, tell the starter and start playing.

So, are you ready to join? OK, you can’t play this week because the course is closed, but come that following Tuesday, you better bring your soft spikes or spikeless golf shoes, because traditional spikes are going to be outlawed.


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