Sports 101

It's been called the "Monster of the Midwest" because of its size and challenging course. It's also where the world's top golfers began teeing off yesterday. The Medinah (Ill.) Country Club, site of the 81st PGA Championship, Aug. 12-15, is located 25 miles northwest of Chicago. The tree-lined course has taken heat for the brown patches on its putting surfaces this summer, while its tight, tree-lined fairways will definitely put golfers to the test.

"This year will be remembered for the four hardest majors," says touring pro Lee Janzen.

Q: What is the PGA event?

A: It's one of the four annual majors (along with the US Open, Masters, and British Open) sponsored by the Professional Golfers' Association. It is also the last chance for American players to gather points to determine who plays in the Ryder Cup matches Sept. 24-26 in Brookline, Mass.

Q: What is unusual about this championship?

A: The course itself. The final major of the year will be played on the second-longest course ever, measuring 7,409 yards - the longest in a major championship since 1967, when the PGA was played at Columbine Country Club, 7,436 yards, outside Denver.

Q: What are some distinctive features of Medinah?

A: The Medinah course has hosted seven major championships in its 70-year history. It features a daunting clubhouse, a 40,000-square-foot mosque-like structure with a 60-foot high rotunda inlaid with mosaics. "You're almost intimidated by the facility itself, and it carries over to the golf course," says Mike Harrigan, Medinah head professional.

Q: Who are the top American players at the PGA?

A: Of the 150 golfers participating from around the world, David Duval, Tiger Woods, Payne Stewart, Davis Love III, and Mark O'Meara are in the top tier. All of them have already clinched spots on the US Ryder Cup team.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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