Recapping Some Olympic Moments

Now that all the golf balls have been located at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, the last bit of rough has coughed up players who lost their way, the greens have returned to their previous roles as simple putting surfaces and playing on them is no longer like putting on sheets of plywood, let's check the scoreboard from the U.S. Open.

WINNERS

1) Lee Janzen. Who else? The only player in the field to shoot par, he won Sunday when the ball he hit into a cypress tree and got stuck there eventually fell out and he managed par instead of double bogey. Good emotional response: Cried when he won . . . would not have cried if he hadn't.

2) Nick Price. After missing eight cuts this year and seven of his last 10, he finished fourth. His 14 PGA Tour victories in the 1990s are the most of anybody and now he looks as though he could win more.

3) Matt Kuchar. He's an amateur, which means he could have pocketed about $60,000 for finishing tied for 14th if he had turned pro. His showy dad, Peter, is probably kicking himself. Next to 18-year-old Spanish sensation Sergio Garcia, he's probably the most sought-after guy on the list of the product guys and the management firms.

4) Justin Leonard. Played two days in the same group as Kuchar, with Peter Kuchar carrying his son's bag . . . waving arms, pointing, walking in putting lines, yet Leonard resisted conking Caddie Dad with a wedge. Patience will be rewarded, possibly at the British Open.

5) Casey Martin. As anyone who has seen him before already knows, this guy can play. For how long, we don't know, but he tied for 23rd and showed class and courage.

LOSERS

1) Payne Stewart. Sorry, but what makes anyone think Stewart should be any better off than Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson, who all lost in U.S. Opens at Olympic. Besides, they all dressed better.

2) Jeff Maggert. This is getting redundant. Two under through two rounds and nine over the last two rounds. Got his usual Sunday round out of the way Saturday with a 75.

3) Colin Montgomerie. Tied for 18th. Eleven over until his 69 on Sunday when there was no pressure.

4) Paul Simson. The 47-year-old North Carolina insurance agent caught the worst break of the tournament when a) somebody ran off with his ball, and b) a USGA official mistakenly ruled he had to tee it up again. Neither one should have happened. He should have been covered.

HERE'S TO LEE

It needs to be pointed out that Janzen's victory at the Open was his first tournament victory in three years, so you can forgive yourself if you didn't see it coming.

If there's one reason why Janzen might have won, the winner himself said it goes back to one thing--the 79 he shot on the last day of The Players Championship and blew a three-shot lead after 54 holes.

"If I hadn't . . . I might not have won the U.S. Open," Janzen said. "I really feel like that had something to do with it. It just made me tougher, made me stronger, made me realize that I just had to keep my mind a little bit more focused."

Maybe a new set of irons helped too. Janzen stuck a new set of Taylor Made irons in his bag at Colonial, basically because he had worn out the grooves on the old set.

And maybe a new attitude also helped. Instead of grinding on the range so he wouldn't leave anything out, Janzen tried another approach.

"I just played with an incredible calmness. I felt so comfortable. Even after 73 [on Thursday], I didn't feel any hint to press on Friday. . . . I just felt so comfortable with my game that three over was nothing."

The next major for Janzen is the British Open, which should be interesting for him since he has never finished higher than tied for 24th in five appearances and missed the cut last year at Troon, Scotland. But Janzen says he is ready, not only for the British Open, July 16-19 at Royal Birkdale in England, but also to try to win again this year.

"I do think that I feel confident about my game, that I can go out and win more tournaments this year," he said. "I feel much more comfortable about the British Open and PGA coming up. I don't feel any added pressure to win them, but I feel like I have a chance to win them because of what I accomplished."

WHAT HAS HE BEEN READING?

In WE magazine, whose primary readership is people with disabilities, Martin wrote a guest column and said he doesn't particularly like the way the media is covering him.

According to the article, Martin's main complaint is with reporters who "don't listen to my answers because they have their own agenda."

Said Martin: "Sometimes, they have an angle and will come after me relentlessly until they get their quote. . . . They hang around until they can take your words to suit the kind of story they want or have been assigned to write. That's when it's a distortion, and a pain for me."

The only distortion here is that media reaction to Martin has been almost overwhelmingly positive, positively rare for nearly any subject. This is the first time Martin has seen fit to say anything negative about the media, which is a puzzling position since the media have been so even-handed, at the very least, in their coverage of him since he won his suit to use a cart in PGA Tour events.

Chris Murray, Martin's agent at Signature Sports Group, agreed that media coverage has been largely favorable, but said the media are sometimes "overzealous" on issues involving Martin's golf cart.

By the way, Martin has added the Quad City Classic to his schedule, July 9-12 at Coal Valley, Ill. Martin makes his PGA Tour debut the week before, at the Canon Greater Hartford Open. He will ride a cart at both events.

Martin also is considering sponsors' exemptions to play the CVS Charity Classic, July 23-26, at Sutton, Mass., and the Greater Vancouver Open, Aug. 27-30.

TIGER UPDATE

He's the defending champion at this week's Motorola Western Open in Lemont, Ill., but Tiger Woods is taking the next two weeks off afterward to get ready for the British Open.

Woods has won once in his last 19 events and Tiger-watchers will be interested to see how well he does on the greens now that he's over his gruesome experiences at Olympic, where he finished tied for 18th despite four-putting twice and generally putting like someone who had lost his feel.

In fact, that's exactly what happened, according to Woods' agent at IMG, Hughes Norton.

"That seems to be the problem right now," Norton said. "He's always been a feel, imagination, Crenshaw-type putter instead of a mechanical putter. Earl [Woods] always taught Tiger to look at the hole and see the picture. It's a feel thing. I'm just encouraging him to go back to feel. You can't teach somebody feel, imagination, or pictures in a brain. That's what Tiger has."

Woods was 10th in greens in regulation at Olympic, but he was 48th in putting. For the year, Woods is ranked No. 101 on the PGA Tour in putting. Norton said well-meaning friends, such as Brad Faxon, have given advice to Woods, who naturally also hears from his coach, Butch Harmon.

"I think Tiger has got to go back--don't worry, just feel it," Norton said.

The rest of Woods' game appears to be in good shape and he's going to be one of the favorites at the British Open.

As for the U.S. Open, Woods has improved each year--tied for 82nd in 1996, tied for 19th in 1997 and now tied for 18th. It's a major Woods thinks he can win.

"No doubt about it," Woods said. "The putter, unfortunately, just wasn't there for me last week. I just missed some putts."

A NO-SHOW NO-NO

Here's how to hack somebody off, namely tournament directors. You take a sponsor's exemption into an event, then just don't show up. That's what Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke did this week at the Western Open, stiffing tournament director Kym Hougham.

Westwood tied for seventh at Olympic and had played the Buick Classic the week before, where he tied for 47th. Clarke, who tied for 24th at the Buick, tied for 43rd at Olympic.

Another big name withdrew from the Western--Watson--but at least he telephoned Hougham personally and explained he had a shoulder injury.

CALLING ALL LEFTIES

It's Phil Mickelson's stock answer when he is asked if a left-hander can win: : "The ball doesn't know I'm left-handed."

Well, as a historic footnote, there is this week's Western Open, where for the first time, you can find all the left-handers on the PGA Tour. Besides Mickelson, they are Russ Cochran, Steve Flesch and Kevin Wentworth.

BIRDIES, BOGEYS, PARS

Paul Runyan of Pasadena, the PGA champion in 1934 and 1938, will be honored with the PGA Distinguished Service Award, Aug. 12 at the PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club in Redmond, Wash. Runyan, 89, became a PGA member in 1931. . . . At the U.S. Open, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown received a gift of 1,000 free tee times for the city's inner-city youth, donated by Nike's P.L.A.Y. youth program. . . . Kellee Booth of Coto de Caza is part of the eight-player U.S. team that will play Great Britain and Ireland in the Curtis Cup, Aug. 1-2 at Minikahda Club in Minneapolis. Booth, 22, is the 1993 U.S. Girls' Junior champion and a member of Arizona State's NCAA title team.

The California African American Museum (CAAM) will host a tournament July 27 at Braemar Country Club in Tarzana. The event benefits a planned touring exhibition, "Playing Through: The History of the African-American Golfer," which will be at the CAAM in 2000. Details: (213) 874-9155. . . . More than 100 exhibitors are expected to take part in Golf Fest '98, July 17-19 at the San Diego Sports Arena. Details: (619) 280-5200.

Jack Nicklaus will play Gary Player in the fifth and final match in Shell's Wonderful World of Golf series. Nicklaus and Player will meet at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., with the match airing Nov. 4 on ESPN. . . . Alison Nicholas, who will defend her U.S. Open title next week, has been named a Member of the British Empire (MBE), by Queen Elizabeth.

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