Curtis Strange tried for a third straight U.S. Open championship last year, and was the object of worldwide attention. Betsy King is going for a third straight U.S. Women's Open championship this week, and only the most hardy of golf fans know about it.
The LPGA superstar from Limekiln, Pa., will try to become the first woman to take three consecutive Open championships beginning today at Colonial National Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
While it's going to be a tough task, it is much different than the bid by Strange. He had to disconnect his telephone one month before the 1990 Open in Medinah, Ill., then had to check into a hospital for tests after the tournament, in which he tied for 21st.
"There was a lot of pressure put on him and I really haven't had that kind of focus put on me," King said yesterday after a practice round at Colonial. "Curtis stated that a third Open was going to be his goal, and practiced and played toward that end. His whole season was wrapped up in it.
"I didn't build my year trying to win a third Open. I didn't have that luxury. I feel I should use the same preparation for this tournament as any other. If you have a yardage book and a good mind, you can get to know a course."
Hollis Stacy failed in her bid for a third straight Open title in 1979 at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Conn. Donna Caponi failed in 1971 at Kahkwa Club in Erie, Pa. Mickey Wright couldn't do it in 1960 at Worcester (Mass.) Country Club.
King said winning a third Open might help her pocketbook, but she wouldn't expect a landslide of endorsements.
"Curtis benefited a lot more from winning two Opens than I will ever," she said. "The women just don't get as much media attention. This isn't as big a deal as Curtis going for three consecutive Opens."
King won last year at Atlanta Athletic Club by a shot over Patty Sheehan and in 1989 by four over Nancy Lopez at Indianwood Golf and Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich.
King said she has been asked "100 times if I can win a third one."
"I'll find out soon," she said.