Olazabal tries hand at slam

Masters champ withdraws after punching locker wall

U.S. Open notebook

June 19, 1999|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

PINEHURST, N.C. -- Talk about a grand slam.

Reigning Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain wasn't talking about it much yesterday here at the 99th U.S. Open. Nor will anyone else this year when it comes to the possibility of completing golf's seemingly impossible feat.

After completing an opening-round 75 Thursday, Olazabal apparently took out his frustrationon a wall in the locker room. As Orioles manager Ray Miller found out recently, the wall usually wins.

According to a statement released by the USGA, Olazabal said: "I have a broken bone in the fifth metacarpal on my right hand. I hit a wall. The doctor said I would be out three to four weeks. Fortunately, it is a clean fracture."

The chances of Olazabal winning the second leg of the four major championships seemed unlikely even before the incident, but Ray Floyd started with the same score in his Open victory at Shinnecock in 1986.

Said defending champion Lee Janzen: "I guess that eliminates the Grand Slam, doesn't it?"

Tiger Woods had a little more empathy for Olazabal.

"It's understandable, we do get angry and we do take it home sometimes," said Woods, who has been known to lose his temper on the course. "It's unfortunate."

Another player known for his volatility, on and more often off the course, could also relate to Olazabal's situation.

John Daly recalled breaking a finger after punching a television during a drunken rage while playing in a tournament in South Africa. He wound up winning the tournament.

But Daly, who followed an opening-round 68 here with a 77 yesterday, didn't seem to have too much sympathy for Olazabal.

"If I had won the Masters, I don't think I'd be punching too many walls just because I played bad," said Daly. "I am the only one who has a reason to punch something. I haven't done anything all year. At least he's got a green jacket."

Irwin pulls out

Olazabal wasn't the only player to withdraw yesterday because of an injury.

Three-time champion Hale Irwin pulled out after feeling what he described as a "deep twinge" in his left shoulder while hitting his second shot on the seventh hole. Irwin had shot 76 Thursday and was 2 over through six holes.

It marked the first time in his career that Irwin was forced to withdraw during a tournament.

"This is something new for me, but I want to do the smart thing," said Irwin, 54. They told me in the fitness trailer that it's maybe a rotator cuff and maybe just some inflammation. But there was no sense in trying to play on. I've got a lot of things coming up in my schedule."

Irwin is scheduled to play in next week's Ford Senior Players Championship, one of the four majors on the Senior Tour, as well as in the State Farm Senior Classic the following week at Hobbit's Glen in Columbia.

Funk misses cut

After shooting 71 Thursday, Former Maryland golf coach Fred Funk missed the cut with a 78 yesterday. It was the third time in the last four years at the Open that Funk has missed the cut.

Funk bogeyed the first three holes and five of the first six, birdied the par-4 seventh and then double-bogeyed the par-4 eighth.

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