Par Shooter Pavin Secures US Open With Dream Shot
OR its centennial, the United States Golf Association wanted a US Open tournament fit for a scrapbook. It got just that.
Corey Pavin, the PGA Tour's leading money winner in 1991 but a guy without a major title, finally earned the distinction that had eluded him until this, his 12th professional season. And he won in a fashion that every golfer must dream of - hitting a long fairway wood to within several feet of the final hole to virtually assure victory.
The beauty of his feat is that the 5 ft., 9 in. Pavin is a short hitter - about the shortest off the tee in the Open field. Yet he came up big with a long-distance missile that defied the winds and traps that were so much in evidence at the historic Shinnecock Hills course at the east end of Long Island.
The course itself held up its end of the bargain, fairly challenging the world's top players to the max with nary a tree, yet with plenty of barbwire rough and super-slick greens that found balls that landed in the wrong place sliding right off the putting surface.
Pavin shot an even par 280, while everybody else was over par, including Greg Norman, whose frustrations in major events continued. The Shark led or shared the lead entering the final two rounds, but finished second, two over par, winning $207,000 to Pavin's $350,000.
Commenting on his seven runner-up finishes in major championships, Norman said: "It's just as hard to put yourself in there with a chance to win as it is to win."
Norman only had one birdie in the final 36 holes and eight bogeys and now must concentrate on the British Open, which he's won twice.
Ironically, little-known Neal Lancaster, who finished tied for fourth, was the guy who blistered the US Open course on Sunday, shooting a final round 65 to tie a course record, including 29 on the back side that was the lowest nine-hole score in US Open history.
Notebook readers make points
A READER has called in with a correction to a recent Sports Notebook item. He said that Mike Hargrove, now Cleveland's manager, and not Carlton Fisk was known as the Human Rain Delay for his time-consuming batting routine as a player. Fisk was also agonizingly deliberate, but the caller is right, Hargrove owns the title. Sorry for the error.
On another point, here's a clarification to a recent quiz question suggested by another reader: Besides the two United States cities that have hosted summer Olympics (Los Angeles and St. Louis), two communities have held Winter Games (Lake Placid, N.Y., in 1932 and 1980 and Squaw Valley, Calif., in 1960).
Salt Lake City, will become a winter host in 2002, an honor bestowed by the International Olympic Committee last Friday in Budapest.