LPGA tournament money’s nice. Alice Ritzman and Amy Benz wouldn
STRATTON MOUNTAIN, Vt. (AP) _ LPGA tournament money’s nice. Alice Ritzman and Amy Benz wouldn’t mind a little glory, too.
Between them, they have played in 730 LPGA tournaments without a victory. They’re trying again this weekend in the McCall’s Classic, which started belatedly today after fog wiped out all of the first round Thursday and turned it into a 54-hole tournament.
But it’s getting tougher.
``In the last five years, it’s gotten three times tougher,″ Benz said, commenting on the increased number of players capable of winning.
Ritzman sees the record-tying nine new winners on the tour this year and says, ``That’s how good everyone is.″
``The girls coming out now are ready to win, and they’re only 23 years old,″ she said. ``It used to be they had to go through a seasoning process, but now they play so many tournaments in college and travel so much.
``When Nancy Lopez broke in, she was winning six or seven tournaments a year. If anybody wins three or four times now, it’s absolutely fantastic. And it’s going to get worse. It’s going to get harder and harder.″
Still, there’s no need to feel sorry for Ritzman and Benz. Although they don’t have the glory of victory, they do have bank accounts that reflect plenty of good finishes.
They are the two leading career money winners who don’t have a victory. Ritzman, 43, has pocketed $1,363,000 in 427 tournaments and 18 years on the tour, No. 30 on the all-time money list. Benz, 33, has won $1,104,000 in 303 tournaments in 13 years, ranking her 44th.
``A lot of great players don’t win Super Bowls,″ Benz said. ``It’s part of dealing with the ups and downs.
They even shrug off the frustration of watching nine new winners this year who have many fewer years on the tour.
``A few years ago, I would have thought about it,″ Benz said, ``but I’ve gotten past that point.″
More frustrating for Ritzman has been to see players struggling, and still win because the ball bounced their way.
``I see people hit the trees and it bounces back onto the fairway,″ she said. ``I do wonder when is it going to go my way.″
She and Benz have come close.
Ritzman has been in three playoffs, Benz one.
Ritzman lost a five-way playoff when Hollis Stacy birdied the first hole, and lost to Kathy Whitworth when she outdrove Whitworth on the first hole, only to have her ball land in a divot. She lost on the next hole.
Finally, Betsy King shot a 63 in the final round to tie her and Cathy Gerring when Ritzman’s 10-foot putt on 18 hung on the hole.
``To this day I can’t believe I missed that putt,″ she said. Then in the playoff, she had another winning putt dip in and out of the hole.
Benz lost a three-way playoff on the first hole to Maggie Will, and has had two other ties for second.
``It seems like when you’re in contention, boom, someone always comes up with a winner,″ Benz said.
But they aren’t crying in their bankbooks.
``I’ve had a great life out here. Financially, I don’t have too many worries. I still enjoy playing and competing,″ Benz said.
Ritzman said similar things about her life on the tour, and if she never wins, ``It’s not going to kill me.″