The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 18, 1997 · Page 34
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 34

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 18, 1997
Page 34
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P2 SUNDAY, MAY 18, 1997 SPORTS THE SALINA JOURNAL T COMMENT PRO GOLF DAVE ANDERSON The New Ynrk Times Tiger's gallery popular place for young fans IRVING, Texas — Tiger Woods swung his driver and his golf ball soared up, up and away. On this 533-yard seventh hole at the TPC at Las Colinas, it would roll to a stop about 330 yards away in the fairway, but while the ball was still a white dot high in the sky, a young man in the gallery yelled, "I did that in my dreams last night." "So did I," somebody else said, smiling, and Tiger Woods laughed. But that somebody else was not just another envious duffer in the gallery. That somebody else was Nick Price, who has won the PGA Championship twice and the British Open once. He was out there playing with Tiger during the first two rounds of the GTE Byron Nelson Classic, but with his friendly wisecrack, he, too, seemed to be among the thousands in Tiger's gallery. In golf these days, it is the place to be. Unlike other sports, a golf gallery is where any spectator can see Tiger Woods up close and personal. You don't need a box seat behind the dugout or a celebrity seat at courtside. Your ticket won't let you inside the roped-off fairways, but every so often he is right there near the ropes, where you might even hear him talking to his golf ball. "Don't get behind the tree," he could be heard grumbling after a hooked tee shot in the opening round. "Don't." It didn't. All golfers talk to their golf balls, but when Tiger talks to his golf balls, they seem to obey. His gallery talks to him, too. Young or old, the fans can be heard shouting, "Let's go, Tiger" or "Way to go, Tiger." And every so often he acknowledges those voices, as he did while walking from the 15th green to the 16th tee in Friday's second round when a little boy stared up at him. "Hi, Tiger Woods," the boy said. Tiger smiled. Too many touring pros stare straight ahead too often, as if they, were robots, but much of the Masters champion's charm is that he is human. After a birdie or a good shot, he'll flash that boyish smile. On the way to the next tee, he'll slap a hand or two extended to him from behind the ropes. After a bogey or a bad shot, he'll flash annoyance with a snap of his head or muttering. After a par, he'll... well, after he putted out for his third straight par on Friday's back nine, he walked over to the ropes behind the green and handed his golf ball to a small boy. "Maybe he'll have better luck with it," Tiger would say later with a smile. "It wasn't working for me." Through the years, golf icons such as Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus have had huge galleries, but none of them ever attracted as many kids as Tiger Woods does. As a kid of 21 himself, he is aware of his popularity with the kids. "There's a new influx of people who haven't even considered playing the game, especially kids," he said. "I think kids now see golf as maybe a sport that might be kind of cool to play rather than just one of those wimpy sports like we all said growing up." Those kids aren't just teenagers who are already playing golf. They are little kids, such as an African- American 5-year-old, Keon Watson, who peeked over the heads of grownups while perched on the shoulders of his father, Carlos Watson, an electronics engineer who started playing golf a year ago. That popularity demands security. In addition to the usual marshals, four uniformed Irving police officers and several in plainclothes were never far from Tiger before, during and after his round. "I wish the crowds would understand and be more respectful where I didn't need them," he said of the security officers. "Tournaments are trying to feel out how many people we need. Going from the clubhouse to the putting green, we had way too many marshals and police officers and security. I think it drew more attention than it did deter it. "It's upsetting if the fans mob me, like they did in Phoenix and Los Angeles. Those are situations that potentially become very dangerous. A little kid got trampled at the Players Championship. People kept walking over him until I moved them and got him up. That's what can happen if we don't have the security." But as he walked not far from the ropes, a little girl, maybe 4 years old, was heard to say, "I saw Tiger Woods." All around her, grownups smiled and laughed. But that little girl was talking for everyone in Tiger Woods' gallery. Woods at it again U| Tiger's 67 in third round leaves him two shots ahead in closely contested Byron Nelson Classic By RON SIRAK The Associated I'ress IRVING, Texas — Good is never good enough for Tiger Woods. The Masters champion did the only sensible thing — for him — after shooting a 67 on Saturday for a two-stroke lead at 15-under-par 195 going to the final round of the GTE Byron Nelson Classic. He went to practice. "I'm going to have to play better tomorrow," Woods said after an erratic six-birdie, three-bogey round on the TPC course at the Four Seasons resort. Then he was off to hit balls. "A lot of guys can win this," he said after finishing three rounds with a two-stroke lead over Dave Berganio, Mike Standly, Jim Furyk, Lee Rinker and Dan Forsman and with another seven players lurking three strokes behind. "If one guy gets hot with the flat stick they can shoot 61, 62, 63," he said, referring to what a hot putter can do on the relatively simply TPC layout. The putter has been the most reliable club for Woods all week. For the second day in a row he needed only 26 putts — and that despite one three- putt green. "My chipping and my putting has saved me," said Woods, who had several examples of his surreal touch around the greens, including a delicate bump-and-run to 18 inches on the 16th hole for a birdie. But Woods, who opened the tournament with consecutive rounds of 64, was not able to distance himself from the field as he did in his record 12- stroke victory at the Masters, where he was nine ahead going to Sunday. And the slew of players within striking distance seemed to relish the chance of taking on golfs golden guy in the final round. "Looks like an exciting finish for you all tomorrow," Furyk said following a 67 in which he birdied the last two holes. "A bunch of guys are bunched up." A record crowd estimated at 80,000 by Four Seasons club manager Mark Herron flooded the course on Saturday, all but swallowing up the layout. The Associated Press Tiger Woods waves to the crowd after his birdie putt on the 18th green Saturday. Where's the stars at LPGA? Lindley, Johnson in i lead by two strokes in women's major event By The Associated Press ROCKLAND, Del. — The leader-; board at the LPGA Championship; usually reads like the Who's Who of women's golf. The question Saturday was:' Who's that? ; Leta Lindley and Chris Johnson; both shot 2-under-par 69s Saturday and were tied at 210 after three rounds, two strokes ahead of Sherri Steinhauer and Kim Saiki. ; Lindley, now in her third season,has never finished higher than third place on the tour. She missed the cut in five of her last seven! events and was 71st and 80th in the' others. But the 24-year-old Californian started Saturday's round with twc> birdies, making putts from 6 and 17 feet, and at 3-under was one of only four players under par after 54 holes on the DuPont Country Club course. "I never looked at the scoreboard. I just played my game," Lindley said. "You have to have, fun in that position." ! Steinhauer, the second-round, leader, had an inconsistent 73,; notching bogeys on two of the final four holes. Saiki, who has never won on the tour, shot a 69 that included five birdies and three bo^ geys. ; "I would love for my first win to be a major championship, but I'm not going to change anything," Saii ki said. "I'm just going to go! through my routine and hopefully,; come out a winner." Steinhauer is the only one of the top four on the leaderboard to have won a major, capturing the du Maurier Classic in 1992. Her other victory was at the Sprint Championship in 1994. Defending champion Laura Davies is at 216. Lord Byron Nelson looks back over 75 years of golf By RON SIRAK The Associated Press IRVING, Texas — Byron Nelson shifted slightly in his seat, bothered a bit by the balky hips that ended his playing days, and thought back over his 75 years in golf— from $1,000 purses to $1,000 sets of irons, from Bobby Jones to Tiger Woods. The 85-year-old patriarch of the Byron Nelson Classic spoke with pure appreciation and not a note of jealousy about the incredible growth of golf that will push the average PGA Tour purse past $3 million by the end of the century. And he spoke with crystal-clear recollection and modest pride of the pioneering days of the game, when players traveled by car and the most important equipment was a good set of tires and new sparkplugs. In 1945, Nelson accomplished one of the most incredible feats in the history of sports, winning 18 tour events — including T SEMI-PRO BASEBALL an astounding 11 in a row. He also set a record that still stands for the lowest stroke average for a season — 68.3. There were no $40 million Nike contracts back then and no $200 million TV deals. But Nelson's feat did not go unrewarded. "Well, I got some Wheaties," Nelson said about the free case he received after his picture appeared on the cereal box. "But not until after I had won seven or eight in a row did I get them. And I got 200 bucks." Nelson, who started in golf life in 1922 as a caddie at Glen Garden Country Club in nearby Fort Worth, left the tour fulltime after the 1946 season, when the total prize money was $411,533. Forty-eight players won more than that last year. "I did not ever dream in my wildest imagination there would be as much money or that people would hit the ball so far," said Nelson, sitting in the clubhouse at the TPC course at the Four Season Resort during the tournament named after him. "I only won $182,000 in my whole life," he said. "In 1937,1 got fourth-place money at the British Open — $187 — and it cost me $3,000 to play because I had to take a one- month leave of absence from my club job to go." The last tournament Nelson won was the French Open in 1955, and his 10,000-franc prize was not enough to pay the hotel bill. "I had to put up another $200," he said with a huge smile. Nelson recalls names, dates and places with shocking ease — throwing out sentences like: "When Tommy Armour won at Oakmont in 1927..." as if it were written on a piece of paper in front of him. He is a master at putting everything in a historical context. About the incredible growth of prize money in golf, he said: "A few years ago, did you think the stock market would hit 7,200?" And to put Woods in the proper perspective, Nelson reaches back to Jones, who won the Grand Slam in 1930, when Nelson was ' 18. ' "When Bob Jones won the Grand Slam, he had a tremendous following and people followed him like the do Tiger," Nelson said. "He had a tickertape parade down Broadway in New York." In fact, Jones is the only person to have two tickertape parades down Broadway. Woods, Nelson said, is the perfect package of talent and personality at the perfect time. "The name Tiger, he has a great smile . and the background he has," Nelson said. "Someone just comes along at a time and has something no one else has." Asked what makes Woods special as a golfer, Nelson sounded like he was describing his own swing when he analyzed the ,. motion of the 21-year-old. "He has perfect balance," Nelson said. v "His coordination from the feet up is all synchronized. And you've got to feel through your sight. He does that great." Salina Blaze open season next weekend Coach Olson likes speed, fielding ability of this year's squad By BOB DAVIDSON The Salina Journal Salina Blaze coach Warren Olson doesn't expect his team to win many games this summer on the strength of overwhelming home run power. But Olson does expect the Blaze to win plenty of games. The Blaze, Salina's semi-professional baseball team, open their sixth season Friday in the annual Memorial Day Tournament at Dean Evans Stadium. The five- team, 10-game tournament continues through May 26. Olson, who enters his third season with the Blaze, is counting on team speed, solid defense and a couple of experienced starting pitchers to overcome the lack of power. "We've got good speed and our defense will be solid, especially up the middle," said Olson, who has a 48-31 record in two seasons, including a 20-15 mark last summer. "Starting pitching will be a strength in (Aaron) Cleveland and (Tim) Johnson." Cleveland, who pitched this spring for Fort Hays State, was 4-1 with a 3.27 earned run average last summer for the Blaze. Johnson, who pitched at Butler County Community College this spring, was 4-4 with a 3.63 ERA last year. Vonley Frey (Fort Hays State) also returns to the mound after going 2-1 with a 7.56 ERA last year. 1997 ROSTERS Chris Banninger, 1B-DH, (Kansas Wesleyan); Aaron Cleveland, P, (Fort Hays State); Kevin Eastman, OF, (Fort Hays State); Vonley Frey, P, (Fort Hays State); Dave Gardner, P, (Butler County C.C.); Joe Hagan, C; (Cloud County C.C.); Chad Holmes, P, (Kansas Wesleyan); Mike Jackson, INF (Bethany); Jay Johnson INF, (Cloud County); Tim Johnson, P, (Butler County); Jackie McBroom, OF, (Kansas Wesleyan); Jeff Norvell, 1B-DH, (Murray State); Brett Power, P-3B, (Cloud County); Matt Porter, OF, (Northwest Missouri State); Casey Ray, P-DH (Hastings College); Trent Schmidt, OF, (Brown Mackie); Rocco Talley, C, (Kansas Wesleyan); Scott Taliey, P, (Garden City C.C.); Parker Wallace, C, (Fort Hays State); Chad Wedel, SS-OF, (Butler County); Aaron Willey, OF, (Allen County C.C.); Dustin Young, 3B, (Kansas State). Head coach — Warren Olson General manager — Doug Porter Player personnel — Darrln Sterrett Assistant coaches — Daran Chaput; Tyler Olson 1997 SCHEDULE May 23-26 — MEMORIAL DAY TOURNAMENT; 31 — Beatrice, Neb., 4 p.m. (Matson Field). June 1 — at Olathe, 1 p.m.; 7 — WICHITA JETS, noon; 8 — WICHITA TWINS, 1 p.m.; 14 —at Wichita Jets, 1 p.m.; 15— TOPEKA TOR- NADOES, 1 p.m.; 18 — At Llndsborg, 6:30 p.m.; 21 — at Lawrence, 1 p.m.; 29 — at Wichita Twins, 1 p.m. July 5 — at Topeka Pilots, 1 p.m.; 6 — at Topeka Tornadoes, 1 p.m.; 12 — LAWRENCE, 6 p.m.; 13 — TOPEKA PILOTS, 1 p.m.; 16 — LINDSBORG, 6 p.m.; 19 — OLATHE, 1 p.m.; 20-27 — NBC Re- gionals at El Dorado; 29-Aug. 10 — NBC World Series at Wichita. All games doubleheaders MEMORIAL DAY TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE At Dean Evans Stadium May 23 7 p.m. — Lindsborg Black Sox vs. Salina Blaze. May 24 10 a.m. — Wichita Jets vs. Olathe Outlaws. 1 p.m. — Wichita Twins vs. Lindsborg Black Sox. 4 p.m. — Lindsborg Black Sox vs. Wichita Jets. 7 p.m. — Salina Blaze vs. Olathe Outlaws. May 25 1 p.m. — Wichita Twins vs. Wichita Jets. 4 p.m. — Olathe Outlaws vs. Lindsborg Black Sox. 7 p.m. — Wichita Jets vs. Salina Blaze. May 26 Noon — Olathe Outlaws vs. Wichita Twins. 3 p.m. — Salina Blaze vs. Wichita Twins. Offensively, the Blaze's three returning players combined for only nine home runs last season. The Blaze hit 23 homers in 35 games last season. Right fielder Kevin Eastman (Emporia State) is the top returning hitter. He hit .418 last season with three home runs and 15 runs batted in. Center fielder Matt Porter (Northwest Missouri State) hit .403 with three homers and 28 RBI and third baseman Mike Jackson (Bethany) .364 with three homers and 20 RBI. Porter and Eastman can also run once they get on base. Porter stole 23 bases and Eastman 21 last year. Jackson swiped nine. First baseman Jeff Norvell (Murray State) and catcher Rocco Talley (Kansas Wesleyan) also return after battling injuries last summer. Norvell missed half the season with a knee injury and Talley the entire campaign with a shoulder injury. Olson will have 13 new faces this summer. Jackie McBroom (Kansas Wesleyan), Aaron Willey (Allen County Community College), Trent Schmidt (Brown Mackie) and Parker Wallace (Salina Central High School) will patrol the outfield. Jay Johnson (Cloud County Community College) will play middle infield; Chad Wedel (Butler County) will work at shortstop and center field; Chris Banninger (Kansas Wesleyan) is slated for first base; and Dustin Young (walk-on next season at Kansas State) third base along with Jackson. Joe Hagan (Cloud County) and Wallace will share the catching duties with Talley. "We should be excellent average-wise," Olson said. "We just don't have that proven power hitter." Brett Power (Cloud County), Dave Gardner (Butler County), Chad Holmes (Kansas Wesleyan), Casey Ray (Hastings College, Neb.), and Scott Talley (Garden City Community College) round out the pitching staff. "We're concerned about our lack of power and a lack of pitching experience after Cleveland and Johnson," Olson said. "We'll use the Memorial Day Tournament to experiment and see who our other starters, middle relievers and closer are going to be," Olson said. "We won't know until we get out there and see what they've got." The Blaze will again compete in the Walter Johnson League, where they have finished second the last two summers. They're joined by the Olathe Outlaws, Wichita Jets, Wichita Twins, Topeka Tornadoes, Topeka Pilots, Lawrence Monarchs and Lindsborg Black Sox. " The league champion receives an automatic bid to the National Baseball Congress World Series July 29-Aug. 10 in Wichita. Olson will be assisted by Daran Chaput and Tyler Olson, his son. Both were members of last year's team. All of the Blaze's games will be played at Evans Stadium, except for a May 31 non-league doubleheader against Beatrice, Neb,, which will be played at Matson Field. Season tickets are available. Prices are $20 for a family, $10 for adults, $5 for children 12-under- Children 5-under get in free. Call Olson at 827-8338, D.oug Porter at 827-4972, Loren Banninger at 823-6092 or Don Schmidt at 827-8335 to purchase tickets.

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