Hitting famed 3-0 will be welcome relief for Alcott Needs 1 more title for spot in Hall

June 23, 1991|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Correspondent

ROCKLAND, Del. -- Amy Alcott would like to do other things in her life than play golf. Alcott, who spent part of several off-seasons as a short-order cook in a friend's restaurant, has considered taking acting lessons.

"I think I'd be a pretty good actress," Alcott said.

Alcott, 35, has played a variety of roles in her 17-year career on the LPGA Tour. She was first cast as the ingenue, having won the third pro tournament that she entered. She was the all-American girl, having won the 1980 U.S. Women's Open. But her current part -- that of would-be Hall of Famer -- has been something of a struggle.

That struggle could end this week at the LPGA Championship at Bethesda Country Club, where Alcott goes after her 30th victory and her place in golf history. Alcott, looking to become the 12th player to make the tour's Hall of Fame, can't wait to reach her magic number.

"I'm looking forward to getting it over with so I can explore other avenues in my life," she said last week during the McDonald's Championship. "I'm not going to retire, or even cut back that much. But, when it happens, it'll be more of a relief. In my mind, I'm already in the Hall of Fame."

Since winning the Dinah Shore for the third time in March -- and taking a dunk in the lake with Shore for the second time after it was over -- Alcott has come close only once. It happened this month at the Atlantic City Classic, when Alcott charged from four shots back with five holes left to tie Jane Geddes after 16, only to lose when she bogeyed and Geddes saved par from 30 feet at 17.

"It's easy to say there's a lot of pressure, but it's not something I think about on a daily basis," said Alcott. "That was probably the first time all year I thought about it."

At least Alcott is thinking about golf again. A year ago, when she came to the LPGA Championship in late July, her mind was thousands of miles away. Her mother, Lea, had received a diagnosis of lung cancer in February, and was less than a month from her death.

Some golfers have been known to play their best under the most difficult circumstances, but Alcott played her worst. She tied for 46th that week and finished the year 42nd on the LPGA money list. Her LPGA-record streak of 11 straight seasons of more than $100,000 ended, and she didn't win a tournament for only the second year since she turned pro.

"It was like the year never existed," said Alcott. "The five months I spent by her bedside, watching her deteriorate, feeding her, bathing her, were very, very difficult. Two weeks after she died, I remember talking to my brother about it, and it was like those five months never happened. My mother was a very positive person, and I blocked that out. I wanted to remember how she was."

What Alcott remembers is how little her mother knew about the game her daughter played, yet how much pride she took in her performance. Alcott also recalls how her late father, Eugene, a Los Angeles dentist, had encouraged his then-12-year-old daughter to play in a tournament for the first time.

"I asked him how many girls would be in it, and he told there would be 170 boys, ages 10 to 17," Alcott said last week. "I told him that I wasn't going to go out there. This was in the mid-'60s, and there were a lot of sexist attitudes. But he instilled in me that I was just as good as anybody."

"When she came out on tour, she was very mature for a 18-year-old girl, with an extreme desire to win," said Pat Bradley, who came out the year before Alcott and needs three victories to qualify for the Hall of Fame. "I think that we're all rooting for her to get it, and I know she'll be rooting for us."

Though she has played most of her career in the shadow of others -- namely Nancy Lopez, who came out on tour in 1977 and made the Hall of Fame in 1987 -- Alcott has been one of the most consistent players in the tour's history. She won at least one event a year from 1975 through 1986, and has been in the top 10 money-winners at the end of 11 seasons.

What she has lacked in textbook technique, using a short backswing that somehow has held up over all these years, she has made up for in self-confidence. There always has been a swagger to Alcott on the course. A couple of years ago, she was on the putting green at Carmel Valley Country Club in Northern California when she was chided by a man at a cocktail party.

"I must have missed a couple of putts, and he said something like, 'You'll never win the U.S. Open putting like that,' " she recalled. "I said, 'Sir, I have won the U.S. Open.' A couple of people told him who I was."

Alcott is not a big fan of the way LPGA players are judged for th Hall of Fame. Unlike other sports, there is a specific set of criteria. According to the rules established in 1967, players must win 30 tournaments, including two different majors; 35 tournaments, including one major; or 40 tournaments overall.

"It's so far out of reach for most people now it's unbelievable," said Alcott.

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