Tiger Woods Not Intimidated by John Daly’s Distance
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (AP) _ It is a pairing made for Generation X: John Daly, Tiger Woods and Corey Pavin.
They represent power, youthful charisma and skill on a golf course. And they will tee off at 12:20 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the U.S. Open at storied Oakland Hills Country Club.
``I think it is going to be lot of fun,″ said Woods, the 20-year-old junior from Stanford University. ``I know John. I just saw him on the putting green and he is excited to play. I am sure Corey is just going to grind away like he always does.
``I think we are going to have a lot of fun out there.″
Daly and Pavin, of course, are seasoned professionals. Woods is perhaps the best-known amateur since Jack Nicklaus. He has drawn the biggest crowds during the first two days of practice for the 96th Open.
For one thing, the 6-foot-2, 160-pound Woods can crank the ball just as far off the tee as the free-swinging Daly. So he won’t be intimidated.
``Because of his long swing, John can carry it past me on the fly,″ Woods said Tuesday. ``But on a firm fairway, I hit a lower ball and turn it over a little bit. If my ball hits hot, it will roll.
``Here, he will probably outdrive me all day, because it’s soft. At Augusta, it is a different story because ... it’s like hitting on this table here. So, I was able to run it past him.″
Daly and Pavin both have won major championships; Daly the PGA and British Open, Pavin the U.S. Open. There are many, however, who feel Woods may one day be the best of the bunch. He already has an impressive resume.
Woods already has played in two Masters tournaments, one British Open and one U.S. Open. That makes this his fifth major championship.
Some feel Woods, one of six amateurs in a field of 156, already has won his share of majors. He has won two U.S. Amateur championships and recently won the 1996 NCAA championship.
If he should win the U.S. Amateur again this summer, Woods might carve his name forever in the record books. Nobody _ not the great Bobby Jones nor even Nicklaus _ has ever won the U.S. Amateur three times.
After that, there is great speculation that Woods will turn pro. The Milwaukee Open happens to be the regular PGA Tour stop the week after the U.S. Amateur, and Woods has a sponsor’s exemption into that tournament.
``I go to a tournament to win,″ Woods said. ``I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could.″
BALL LAUNCH: Spalding is using the U.S. Open to begin marketing a new golf ball. But the multi-layer Top-Flight Strata Tour already had quite a launch before the launch, so to speak.
Touring pro Mark O’Meara has been using the ball for several weeks.
In that time, O’Meara has won the Greater Greensboro and Memorial tournaments, finishing second at the MCI Heritage and Kemper Open. O’Meara is $678,600 richer and 51-under-par since he began playing the ball.
According to Spalding, the multi-layer design of the ball _ designed for pros and top-level amateurs _ combines a soft Balata cover with a firm inner layer and high-energy core. But it isn’t cheap. The suggested retail price is $52 per dozen.
PLANNING AHEAD: The Pinehurst, N.C., region just staged the U.S. Women’s Open last week at Pine Needles Resort, but organizers aren’t wasting any time getting ready for their next test, the 1999 U.S. Open.
Pinehurst representatives are at Oakland Hills this week. They are studying the overall setup, but merchandising in particular. At Oakland Hills this week, a 20,000-square foot merchandise tent sits adjacent to the first green. It has been open to the public since Sunday. The tournament doesn’t begin until Thursday, but some items, particularly sweatshirts, already are becoming scarce.
``The representative from Pinehurst wanted to take a good look at what we’ve done here,″ Cross Creek sales rep Nancy Pentiuk said. ``They’ve already got their logo ready and they want to capitalize on the great interest in the U.S. Open.″