12 senior women to play this weekend--for 36 holes Centel offers purse for minitourney

GOLF

May 12, 1991|By JOHN STEWART

Betsy Rawls has not played a competitive round of golf since 1975; Carol Mann's last effort was in the 1988 United States Women's Open at Baltimore Country Club; Kathy Whitworth and Marlene Hagge have entered several 1991 events without success; and Sandra Spuzich and Sandra Palmer have had somewhat less than modest success this season, although they have cashed some checks.

All are longtime members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, with Rawls, Whitworth, and Mann in its Hall of Fame, and all will be in action this weekend in a 36-hole tournament for LPGA players 50 years and older.

Is a senior tour for the Ladies Professional Golf Association upon us?

Probably not, but Centel, a telecommunications company, and sponsor of this week's $1 million Centel Classic in Tallahasssee, Fla., is putting up $100,000 for 12 players (four threesomes) who will go off in front of the regular tournament field Saturday and Sunday at Killearn Country Club.

The field: Murle Breer, Clifford Ann Creed, Shirley Englehorn, Hagge, Mann, Palmer, Jo Ann Prentice, Rawls, Marilynn Smith, Spuzich, Louise Suggs and Whitworth.

Invitations were based on career LPGA wins, but Mickey Wright and Patty Berg indicated they would not compete because of health reasons, and another eligible, JoAnne Carner, is entered in the regular tournament.

Mann is enthusiastic about playing, but isn't sure what game she will take to the tee.

"I'm practicing two hours a day. I played last week and hit the ball better than I have in 15 years," she reported from her home in Houston, "but there is still one very big question. How do I overcome the huge rush of adrenalin and still perform well?

"It will be a major thing to get over. You can't stop it, and I don't

want to, but there figures to be such a high, I don't want to hit 'blank city.' You get psyched for that first hit. Let me get past that, and I can handle it."

Their course will play about 5,800 yards, and at least for some of the hitters, they will be in places they haven't been before in terms of going for the greens. It will put a premium on chipping and putting, and these precision skills are the ones most likely to be affected by the adrenaline each player will bring to the competition.

"The only chance I have to reduce these is to go in with the idea of having fun; a happy-go-lucky attitude rather than going in to win. At least I'll start out with that approach, and see what happens," the former Baltimore resident said, laughing.

As has been her wont for years, she is juggling several commitments -- writing a book, writing a golf column for the Houston Post, managing several new enterprises -- and now trying to find a game she can take to the tournament.

Rawls has been busy the past 16 years working first as tournament director for the LPGA, and, since 1981, as the executive director for the McDonald's championship in Wilmington, Del.

"I'm not sure if I'm ready, but I have been practicing -- before and after work -- and I'm enthusiastic about it," the four-time U.S. Women's Open champion said during a telephone conversation. a great way to include the senior players; I'm surprised it hasn't been done before.

"I can see having such an event two or three times a year. We might do something with it at McDonald's next year."

Other events for the senior players have been held in the past -- Marilynn Smith has a tournament in Dallas, and Centel conducted a shootout last year -- and this week's program is being looked upon as a test case by the LPGA.

"We are thrilled about it, and thank Centel for its involvement and its vision," said Elaine Scott, a member of the LPGA communications staff. "Certainly, we will be looking at how well it is received. We haven't talked about the future of such an event, but it is something to think about."

At the Centel tournament last fall, a 10-team shootout, featuring an LPGA veteran and a younger player, was held and it was the popularity of this event which prompted John Frazee, Centel chairman and CEO, to come up with this week's tournament format.

*

Tournaments: 3rd North Arundel Hospital, Turf Valley CC, May information from 787-4367; 22nd Cystic Fibrosis, Sparrows Point CC, May 23-24, information from 771-9000; 15th Save-A-Heart, Turf Valley CC, June 10-11, information from 653-3131.

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New members of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Golf Course Superintendents include Bruce Cadenelli, Caves Valley GC; James Davies, Chester River Yacht & CC, Chestertown; Douglas Fleming, The Suburban Club; and Jon Machmuller, The Beach Club, Ocean City. . . . Professional changes include Hunt Crosby from Ocean Pines to The Beach Club; Buddy Sass at Ocean Pines; Greg Long to Bear Creek in Westminster; Jeff Sprague (head) and Jim Estes (assistant) at Bonnie View; Craig Day replaces the retired Charles Herling at Turf Valley CC; John McCloskey at Sparrows Point; John Stavely at Swan Point; Eric Lawhon at WestWinds; Larry Ringer at Prince George's, and Pat Owen at the U.S. Naval Academy.

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This week's schedule: Tuesday -- MAPGA and MAAGCS Pro-Superintendent tournament, Hog Neck GC, 12:30 p.m. Friday -- MAPGA pro-am, Chestnut Ridge CC, 8 a.m.

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