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At 47, He May Be Sports’ Oldest ‘Rookie’

Allen Doyle is 47 and he is also a rookie, although it’s doubtful anybody is going to ask him to do those rookie hazing things, like fetch water or carry somebody’s bags or sing the school song.

So what if Doyle is the oldest rookie in PGA Tour history and about a four-wood away from being eligible for the senior tour? After all, this guy is in the Norwich (Mass.) University Sports Hall of Fame as a hockey player.

Doyle, who earned his tour card by finishing second on the 1995 Nike Tour money list, owns a driving range in LaGrange, Ga.

He was a renowned amateur, a member of three Walker Cup teams, who learned his unorthodox swing by practicing in a room with a low ceiling when he was a kid.

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But it’s working. Doyle shot 68 Friday in the third round of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, which put him six shots under par in the $1.3-million event and kept him in the running to cash his first serious check in just his second event.

Last week at Tucson, Doyle made $3,029 and felt pretty good about it.

“It’s nice to get a check with a comma in it,” he said. “It’s always better to have a comma.”

Doyle needs to have a lot more checks with commas. He is one of 28 tour rookies and they all have the same agenda--how to win enough money to keep their card for next year.

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The odds aren’t that good. Of the 117 PGA Tour rookies from either qualifying school or the Nike Tour since 1990, only 30 have stayed exempt by making the top 125 on the money list.

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Senior Bowl: For what it’s worth, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Ray Floyd and Jim Colbert, who play in the Senior Skins Game next Saturday and Sunday, were asked to make their Super Bowl picks.

Palmer, from Pennsylvania, was the only one who picked the Steelers.

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Did I mention my boat? Here are Bruce Lietzke’s top two ways to spend a Saturday afternoon without playing golf, according to Golf magazine:

“1. Sitting with my wife and family in a boat in the middle of any lake.

“2. Sitting with my dog in a boat in the middle of any lake.”

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Have some greens: Riviera Country Club issued a news release last week that said the club’s greens wee making “excellent progress.”

The greens, which were in bad shape at last year’s PGA Championship, have been aerated, top-dressed, over-seeded and fertilized. The watering also has been cut back.

Riviera reports that roots extend five inches and that the greens will be ready for the Nissan [Los Angeles] Open Feb. 22-25.

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David Eger, vice president of competition for the PGA Tour, inspected Riviera’s greens two weeks ago and said he remains concerned about their condition.

“We’re hopeful,” Eger said. “I’m not saying they’re going to be great. We’re hopeful they’re going to be good.”

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Tee parties: For everyone who thinks a desert landscape ought to be barren, we give you televised professional golf, and plenty of it.

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The Palm Springs area may not be tournament golfed-out yet, but it could be close to reaching its limit.

In just more than three months here, starting last November, there will have been six pro golf events on TV--the Skins Game, Diners Club Matches, Lexus Challenge, Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Liberty of Mutual Legends of Golf and the Dinah Shore.

And that’s not counting such events as the PGA Club Pro Championship last October, the Senior PGA Tour qualifying school last December and the NCAA women’s championship in May.

It could be a little awkward for the pro tournaments, each one going after many of the same advertisers, volunteers and ticket-buying audience. So far, though, there has been room on the golf course for everybody.

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Good luck: Jim Ritts, the 42-year-old former cable TV executive who is the new commissioner of the LPGA, wants to add a season-ending tour championship tournament, at least one more West Coast event, fill in the blanks in the schedule in February and March and increase prize money $1.5 million by next year.

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Golf Notes

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The first “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf” match will be taped in Hawaii next week. Arnold Palmer plays Gary Player. It will be shown April 14, the Sunday of the Masters. . . . Betsy Rawls, a four-time U.S. Women’s Open champion, will receive the USGA’s Bob Jones Award for distinguished sportsmanship in golf. . . . The Volunteer Center of Los Angeles is holding a tournament Jan. 29 at Mountaingate Country Club. Details: (213) 484-2849. . . . The Don Buford-Dennis Gilbert celebrity golf tournament will be played Jan. 29 at the Wilson course at PGA West. The event raises money for the Los Angeles City College men’s baseball team. Details: (213) 464-6801.


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