Predictions are left blowing in the wind

Weather wreaks havoc with players' theories

Kemper Open notes

June 02, 2000|By Sam Borden | Sam Borden,SUN STAFF

POTOMAC - Leading up to the first round of the Kemper Insurance Open, the talk among the players was of the rain that soaked the course last weekend. The TPC at Avenel seemed to be playing longer than its 7,005-yard length, and players were hitting shots during practice rounds that "were going nowhere," as Steve Elkington put it.

The consensus was that players who hit the ball long and high - like Ernie Els, John Daly and Hank Kuehne - would be favored because their shots wouldn't be hampered by the sopping fairways.

But high temperatures and a soft breeze yesterday left those predictions blowing in the wind, as Els and Daly carded 1-over 73s and Kuehne struggled to a 3-over 74. Of course, some of the longer players, like Casey Martin (fourth on the tour in driving distance) played well, shooting a three-under 68.

To Kuehne, that's just more fodder for the idea that pre-tournament expectations are meaningless, especially when the player doesn't swing the club well on the course. The 1998 U.S. Amateur champion played Nos. 5, 6 and 7 in four-over, leaving him to blame no one but himself.

"I just didn't play well today. I mean I played the par-5s in 2-over," Kuehne said. His double-bogey 7 on the par-5 sixth was an anomaly - it was one of just five recorded on the second-easiest hole on the course yesterday. "It's simple, really," he said, "I didn't hit good shots when I had to have it."

Martin turns heads

Two days after the PGA brought its protest of Martin's use of a cart to the U.S. Supreme Court, the former Stanford golfer turned heads when he hit all 18 greens in the first round en route to a rock-solid 68.

Martin birdied his first hole (the 10th), then made eight straight pars to turn in 34. A bogey on the first hole brought him back to even, but birdies on Nos. 4, 5 and 7 left him in a tie for 15th.

"I made a few putts but missed a few, too," said Martin, who just had laser surgery peformed on both his eyes last Friday. Martin said that he didn't think about the tour's latest step to keep him off the course yesterday. ... except when he was finishing his round and saw the TV cameras behind the green.

"It only entered my mind on the last hole, when I saw you all and I realized, `Oh, they're going to ask me about it,'" he said.

Let's make a deal

Jason Caron might not have the most lucrative endorsement deal on the PGA tour, but he certainly has the richest.

The rookie won three events last year on the minor-league Hooters Tour, and struck a deal with Nabisco, the maker of Oreo cookies, for Caron to wear an Oreo hat and carry a blue and white golf bag with the cookie maker's logo. The agreement, which Caron says he engineered after he learned a pro-am partner's neighbor was an executive at Nabisco this year, doesn't just involve money. Caron also gets free cookies.

"I'm the only guy on tour with a deal from Nabisco, though Juli Inkster has one on the LPGA tour," said Caron, who admitted that he prefers the original style Oreo instead of the larger DoubleStuff. "And you always got to have milk with cookies," he added.

Miscellaneous

Wayne Grady became the first casualty of this year's Kemper, when he was disqualified for signing an erroneous scorecard. Grady had given himself a par-4 on the eighth hole, when, in fact, he had recorded a five. Had he not been disqualified, he would have recorded a 6-over 78. ... Tommy Tolles withdrew after 16 holes of his first round, saying he sustained an injury to his hand. Tolles did walk the final two holes to keep score for his playing partners.

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