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Golf: Sewickley's Oliver to skip defense of WGAWPC title

Sunday, July 14, 2002

The Women's Golf Association of Western Pennsylvania Championship begins Tuesday at Edgewood Country Club and the defending champ, Judy Oliver, will not be there.

Oliver, who was diagnosed with cancer in September, does not think she has the strength to play three days in a row. Plus, she has been having problems with her vision, something she is unsure is related to her cancer treatments.

"It's just too hard to try to do three days in a row," said Oliver, a Sewickley resident and a member at Allegheny Country Club. "I entered with the hope of playing, but the last couple weeks I have a problem with my vision. I had it checked last week and got contacts Tuesday, but it's a bit of a blur. I'm lucky the ball is there. The only way I know it's there is I hit it."

Oliver won the title last year when she holed a pitch shot for eagle to beat her good friend, Carol Semple Thompson, in a playoff. Several months later, she withdrew from the U.S. Senior Amateur at her home course and was diagnosed with cancer.

Oliver has resumed playing golf, but she doesn't want to push her physical limits by competing in the WGAWP championship, an event she has won five times in her decorated amateur career. Also, she is trying to do as much as possible to make sure she feels good for her role as honorary captain of the U.S. team in the Curtis Cup matches Aug. 3-4 at Fox Chapel Golf Club.

"I'd love to play [this week]," Oliver said. "But I'm trying to make everything ready for the Curtis Cup. That's where I am."

Trivia

Ben Hogan won the British Open in 1953 to complete the Grand Slam. How many times did Hogan compete in the British Open? Answer at end.

A hot commodity

One of the concessions by the United States Golf Association in its equipment-testing agreement with the Royal & Ancient Golf Club is to raise the maximum limit of the coefficient of restitution -- known more commonly as the spring-like effect -- from .830 to .860.

The hike does not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2003, and will be in place until Jan. 1, 2008. It was done to allow the R&A and everyone under its auspices five years to get all their drivers back to what will eventually be the COR standard -- .830.

That has opened the door for equipment companies to begin marketing "hot" drivers in the United States.

Taylor Made Golf has begun shipping its 500 Series drivers, becoming the first major equipment company with a driver that has a COR of .860 to be sold in the United States (the Callaway ERC II has a COR of .840).

The driver will retail for $399 and already is available at golf stores and some courses in Western Pennsylvania. Some courses, such as Oakmont Country Club, are allowing the drivers to be used now in club competitions.

"Since I've been with Taylor Made, I've never had anything like this in terms of anticipation," said local Taylor Made rep Rich Berglund. "Right now, they've effectively obsoleted the other clubs and given an unfair advantage to some players."

Stimmel returns to Hooters

Rick Stimmel, who won last week's West Penn Open, will not be playing in the $100,000 Frank B. Fuhrer Invitational that begins tomorrow at Butler Country Club.

Stimmel, 34, a regular on the Hooters Tour, tried to get a sponsor's exemption in the 72-hole event, but said he was denied.

So, Stimmel will head back to the Hooters Tour, where he has made the cut in nine of 11 events and lost in a playoff in St. Louis several weeks ago.

"It's not where I want to be," said Stimmel, a Cranberry native, "but it's a good stepping stone to get to the next level."

Take it indoors

Too hot to practice outside?

Jim Cichra, instructor at the Island Sports Center on Neville Island, has a suggestion:

Practice inside at the air-conditioned dome.

"We're seeing a lot of players, particularly seniors, come in here," Cichra said. "When it's 95 degrees outside, you can only hit a few balls before you're cooked."

Turf tips

David Alexandrowicz, superintendent at St. Clair Country Club and a member of the Greater Pittsburgh Golf Course Superintendents Association, reminds players to be considerate of the maintenance people trying to keep the course in good condition.

"Players should give a high priority for those who maintain the course. As employees, we are always on the alert for flying objects -- golf balls, golf clubs, etc. That is, if we know they are coming.

"Please be patient when you see people working on the course. We are out there preparing the course for your enjoyment. Please allow us enough time to get out of the way. If we have only one or two passes left to complete mowing a green, let us finish so that you can play in silence. Severe injury, or in some cases death, can result from an impatient golfer hitting into a green while someone is still there.

"With your cooperation, it's possible players and groundskeepers can coexist in a safe environment with outstanding playing conditions."

Quotable

Chi Chi Rodriguez on golfers: "For most amateurs, the best wood in their bag is a pencil."

Dissa and data

The first Chuck McDevitt Memorial Outing will be Sept. 15 at Cedarbrook Golf Course. Interested should call, 412-384-4736 or 412-655-9335. Entry is $80 and includes dinner. The tournament is named for McDevitt, a former Allegheny County employee who was head groundskeeper at South Park Golf Course.

Spalding has begun marketing and shipping the new Ben Hogan Apex Tour ball, featuring a four-piece construction that combines distance with exceptional feel. The ball has a soft energy transfer core for distance, and a HC350 urethane cover -- the thinnest thermoplastic polyurethane cover -- for spin and control.

Davis Love III is designing a new course, The Patriot, in Lake Greenwood, S.C. The course, which will be private, is slated for a fall 2003 opening.

The Westfield (Ohio) Junior PGA Championship begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday at Westfield Country Club.

PerryGolf, the leader in international golf travel, has released its brochure of golf trips for 2003. Among the highlights: Cruises to Scotland and the British Open. More information can be found at www.PerryGolf.com.

Trivia answer

That was the only time Hogan played in the British Open. He never competed in the event again.

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