The way Jim Givens’ heart was racing as he teed up on the first hole at Oakmont Country Club on Wednesday it might have killed him not too long ago.
Givens, a Glendale resident, had a cholesterol count of nearly 300 about a year ago and seemed destined for a heart attack.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at the slender, 160-pound Givens, but at this time last year, his doctor feared for his life.
“He told me it would be malpractice for him not to treat it,” Givens said. “That woke me up and shocked me into doing something.”
Givens was one of 152 amateur golfers who played in the first of two pro-am tournaments, all part of the festivities leading up to the LPGA Tour’s Los Angeles Women’s Championship at Oakmont in Glendale.
Givens, who is married to former Glendale Mayor and current City Council member Eileen Givens, was invited to play in the pro-am by Glendale Memorial Hospital, one of the tournament sponsors. He credits the hospital, particularly its cardiac fitness center, for putting him on the road to good health.
Ironically, he discovered the cardiac-fitness center by accident.
While undergoing regular office treatment, Givens received an unusual phone call that summoned him to a session at the cardiac-fitness facility. Though he was never told these sessions would be part of his treatment, he went anyway.
“Turns out they called the wrong Jim Givens,” he said. “There was another Jim Givens somewhere that had just had open-heart surgery. I went and ended up there by mistake.”
That mistake, however, may have saved Givens a trip to the operating room.
“I started looking around at all the people with scars across their chests and I figured I’d skip that part,” he said. “So I started going.”
Givens attends 50-minute sessions three times a week. With the help of therapists, he runs through a series of exercises to reach his target heart rate of 140.
“I’m in the best shape of my life,” said Givens, who admits that his past diet of pizza, nuts, chips and cheeseburgers left a lot to be desired.
“All my life I’ve been in athletics but this has been really good for me.”
Givens, wearing a hat autographed by LPGA players Annika Sorenstam, Emilee Klein, Julie Piers and his playing partner for the day, Mardi Lunn, said his cholesterol count is down to 200 and he has since changed his diet to include lots of pasta, fruits and vegetables.
Except for that one time.
“Pizza was always my favorite,” he said. “So I asked the doctor if I could have just one pizza. He said OK.”
Klein upset: Emilee Klein has basked in the spotlight since her arrival at Oakmont on Tuesday, cordially greeting all well wishers and graciously granting the numerous interview requests she has received.
But Wednesday, one television reporter took it too far when he tried to get an interview during the middle of her pro-am round.
Upset with the reporter, Klein refused the interview and then walked off the course to complain to tournament officials.
Klein is a Studio City resident whose parents are members at Oakmont. There are signs welcoming her home along the course.
She is seventh on this year’s money list and is coming off a second-place finish at last week’s National Pro-Am at Ibis Golf and Country Club in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Klein shot a final-round 63 in that tournament to tie Kelly Robbins, but lost the second hole of a sudden-death playoff. The 63 was a course record and one stroke shy of the all-time LPGA record.
Channel surfers beware: Television coverage of the tournament has been revised. Fox Sports West 2 will carry same-day delayed coverage from 4-6 p.m. on Saturday and will show live coverage on Sunday from 1-3 p.m. Fox Sports West will have delayed coverage of Sunday’s round from 5-7 p.m.
The programs will be rebroadcast nationwide later in the week on Fox Sports.
Valley gallery: Two local favorites are scheduled to tee off together in Friday’s first round. Klein and Helen Alfredsson, who hails from Sweeden but resides in Glendale, will tee off on No. 10 at 8:39 a.m. They are expected to have the largest gallery.
Rosie, call me: Jill Briles-Hinton, a 10-year tour veteran from Florida, has one goal other than winning the tournament this week: she wants tickets for the Rosie O’Donnell show.
Fans routinely line up several hours in advance for the 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. tapings. Problem is that between her practicing and her 6 1/2-month-old son, Bert, Briles-Hinton can’t go to O’Donnell’s Burbank studio and wait in line.
“When I was pregnant at home I watched her every day,” Briles-Hinton said. “I couldn’t wait for it to come on and when it came on I dropped everything to watch.”
Laurie Brower is also interested in attending the show.
Motoring: After playing a practice round, Alfredsson will relax today by drag racing at Pomona Race Track.
Alfredsson, who is certified by the National Hot Rod Assn., is scheduled to race at 1 p.m.