Shaken by accident, Alcott focuses on Hall of Fame

February 09, 1992|By Robert Lohrer | Robert Lohrer,Knight-Ridder News Service

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The odds of one player winning a golf tournament are never great, even for a sure LPGA Hall of Famer such as Amy Alcott. But the way Alcott figures it, she's lucky to be alive, much less playing in the Phar-Mor at Inverrary.

Two weeks ago, Alcott, 36, was on her way to her regular golf game, driving down Sunset Boulevard in Southern California, when her car was sideswiped by another vehicle.

"I'm still shook up," Alcott said Thursday at Inverrary. "The fact that I'm walking is a miracle."

The fact that she's playing golf so soon after the accident is just as remarkable.

Her Chevy Blazer was demolished. Though Alcott was fortunate to escape without broken bones, she's suffering from a sore body. She's popping Advil and still "having nightmares about steel and glass."

So odds are she won't win this weekend, but it could be interesting watching her nonetheless. After three days of bed rest and hot baths two weekends ago, she played in the pro-am preceding last week's Oldsmobile LPGA Classic in Lake Worth, Fla. The next day, she shot 77 in the first round.

She then recovered with rounds of 70-69-70. She finished seven strokes behind winner Colleen Walker.

"If I hadn't had that bad first round, I could have won," Alcott said.

And Alcott's next victory will be something special because it will put her into the LPGA's Hall of Fame, a super-select body that has 12 players. And barring acts of nature, it's highly likely the victory will come sooner than later for Alcott.

Last year, she won her third Nabisco Dinah Shore title and had six other top-10 finishes. She has had at least one victory in 15 of her 17 years on tour. And she experienced a mini-resurgence last year as she rose to 13th on the money list. From 1978 through 1986, Alcott had finished among the top 10, and twice was as high as third. But in 1990, she tumbled to 42nd, despite playing in almost as many events (23) as she had the previous years.

But then Alcott never has been guilty of having tunnel vision. As a hobby a few years back, she took up short-order cooking in Southern California and found that getting an order right held as much pressure as sinking a putt. Her new hobby is abstract painting.

"I do a lot of throwing," Alcott said of her technique of applying paint to canvas.

But her game is still golf. In fact, Alcott is one of four players, along with Beth Daniel, Betsy King and Patty Sheehan, on the cusp of being measured as immortals in their sport.

With its rigid criteria, the LPGA's Hall of Fame is unique. To get in, you win 30 tour events and two different majors, or 35 tour events and one major, or 40 tour events exclusive of majors.

King needs five victories. Daniel needs three more, including a major other than the LPGA Championship. And Sheehan needs four more and a major other than the LPGA.

But Alcott, who has a U.S. Open, three Nabisco Dinah Shores and the Peter Jackson Classic (the forerunner of the LPGA's fourth major, the du Maurier Ltd.) needs only one victory.

"Certainly the Hall of Fame is lurking," Alcott said. "It's either going to happen or it's not going to happen."

The same could be said for this weekend's other significant subplot. Deb Richard, who won the Phar-Mor last summer in Youngstown, Ohio, is playing for a $1 million bonus should she capture back-to-back tournaments sponsored by Phar-Mor.

"I really haven't thought about it," Richard said recently. But it's tough not to think about how a 4-foot putt could mean the difference between $1 million or, say, gaining entrance into the Hall of Fame.

"I've won golf tournaments almost every way imaginable," said Alcott, who has won a tour event in all but two of her 17 years as a pro. "I've won them being six shots behind and nine shots ahead. I've won them in playoffs. And I've won them in rain and I've won them in 110-degree heat."

Back home in Southern California, Alcott has received all kinds of advice on how to deal with nearing the Hall of Fame. At her club in Bel Air, fellow member Monte Hall, the former host of "Let's Make a Deal," even told her to slow down and enjoy the journey.

"Monte said that's all everyone is talking about," Alcott said. "He said I should be happy. When I'm in, nobody is going to be talking about me. Drag it out. Milk it."

"I'll just take it whenever it happens," Alcott said.

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