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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Friday, January 26, 2001



GOLF WATCH

Tapa

Senior Skins players
pick Sunday winner

HAWAII'S golf beat goes on. This Super Bowl weekend, the 14th annual Senior Skins Game will be played for the first time at the Wailea Gold Course on Maui after 11 years at the Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island.

The made-for-television event -- figure in all the television audience that'll be home to watch Super Bowl XXXV on Sunday -- will feature Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Hale Irwin.

You know, even they will be watching the National Football League championship game. So who do they predict to win -- the New York Giants or the Baltimore Ravens?

Here's their picks for Super Bowl XXXV:

Bullet Player: Giants, 17-14.

Bullet Irwin: Ravens, 17-13.

Bullet Nicklaus: Giants, 21-17.

Bullet Palmer: Ravens, 24-14.

The golden foursome also hopes to put on a good show at Wailea for the national television audience.

If last year's Senior Skins Game at Mauna Lani was indicative, they definitely will.

Even Nicklaus was caught up in the ending of Player's dramatic finish to win $220,000 on the first playoff hole.

"It was a pretty good TV show and, in fact, that's what this is," Nicklaus said.

Besides, it's not often anyone will get to see golf legends Nicklaus and Palmer up close and personal.

Nicklaus, who will be playing in his 11th Senior Skins Game, is thinking of drastically reducing his playing schedule on the Senior Tour this year.

Besides last week's MasterCard Championship at Hualalai and this week's event at Wailea, Nicklaus hasn't made any plans for the rest of the year. That means no grand farewell tour of the majors.

Not even the Masters?

Hard to imagine a Masters without Nicklaus, but he might even skip Augusta if he feels he can't play reasonably well. No ceremonial stuff for him.

"I don't want to burden a field with somebody who can't play," he said.

Palmer, 71, will be playing in his 13th Senior Skins Game. The only one he missed was 1997 when he was recovering from prostate cancer.

By now, Palmer is sick and tired of having to defend his thoughts about the new ERC thin-faced driver put out by Callaway.

I'm on his side. What's wrong with golfers using the driver for recreational play? That's all Palmer is advocating.

And don't say it's against USGA rules. Most golfers don't follow them to a tee, anyway.

How many times have you heard someone say, "My first ball was a Titleist and my provisional is a Precept."

That's a violation of the one-ball rule, if you want to be a stickler for rules.

Player thinks Palmer is being unfairly criticized.

"I think all the equipment we're using today is illegal," Player said. "I'm sad to say that I think the USGA ... has been very weak in regards to golf equipment.

"The golf ball compared to when I played in the '50s and '60s goes at least 50 yards farther. I'm seeing guys hitting the ball 300 yards on the Senior Tour and they couldn't do that when they were 25."

In a fair world, everybody would hit the same clubs and same golf ball. You think ball and equipment manufacturers would agree to that? Get real.

Tapa

Robert Trent Jones Jr., who designed the Gold Course, will be in attendance this weekend, while head pro Rick Castillo won't be. He's attending the PGA Merchandising Show in Orlando, Fla., where he will be honored as Hawaii's resort merchandiser of the year.



Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.
Email Bill: bkwon@starbulletin.com



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