Monday, January 18, 1999
Field of five
Jeff Maggert ties forBy Paul Arnett
second but hes
Jeff Maggert can't see the light, but that doesn't mean he won't stop looking.
The only victory for the eight-year veteran of the PGA Tour occurred at the 1993 Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic in darkness. Weather delays forced 36 holes to be played on Sunday.
By the time the Texas A&M product walked up the 18th fairway with a three-stroke lead over Greg Kraft, floodlights had to be used so Maggert could find his way to the green.
As tight as yesterday's finish was at the inaugural Sony Open in Hawaii, many wondered if a five-way playoff would occur and force someone to win under cover of darkness.
Unfortunately for Maggert, it was final-round partner Jeff Sluman who played "lights out" when he had to. The Florida State graduate birdied the last two holes to secure a two-stroke victory over five second-place finishers that included Maggert.
Sluman trailed Maggert by one shot after the front nine. Maggert bogeyed 11, but birdied 13 to go to minus-8 and briefly hold the lead. But a critical bogey at 15 and a pair of birdie putts that lipped out at Nos. 16 and 18 kept him from winning in the light of day.
It is the 13th second-place finish of Maggert's career. Seven of those occurred from 1996-98 for Maggert, who pocketed $2.6 million during this sometimes frustrating run.
"I'm not going to hang my head low by the way I played," said Maggert, who fired a final-round 68 to finish 7-under in his first professional tournament in nearly three months. "I've had a lot of close calls out here.
"I just wanted to have fun this week. I did have a lot of fun. It was a good week for me, a good way to start the new year. I've got a good feeling about my game. It's a Ryder Cup year and certainly I want to be on the Ryder Cup team again."
Maggert has done everything but win consistently. Twice he held final-round leads at the Shell Open on his home course at The Woodlands, located 60 miles north of Houston. But both times he let those leads slip away.
Twice in 1995 and 1997, the former All-America golfer for the Aggies managed top 10 finishes in major events. He even had a lead in the final round of the 1992 PGA Championship, before slipping to sixth.
"I feel like I can come out here and play well against the best players in the world," Maggert said. "I've had a lot of success. All I can do is continue to play well because I know I'm going to win some golf tournaments out here."
That could work to Maggert's benefit as he heads to his week's Bob Hope Plymouth Desert Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. Unlike many of the top players on Tour, he is relatively fresh. His last tournament was in October.
"I don't see how these guys can do it," Maggert said of the year-long run. "Everyone is pulling at these guys to play. Myself, physically and mentally, I don't feel like I can play more than about 25 or 30 weeks a year.
"I'm not going to play during the holidays. I need to spend that time with my family. I don't get to see them enough as it is. I had a great break. Things went well. I worked on my game quite a bit and feel like I'm playing better than at any point last year."
Part of his vitality comes from a new weight program. He has been working out for about 14 months and has shed 20 pounds from his 5-foot-9 frame.
"I started this fitness program and recently started adding some weights over the winter," Maggert said. "I feel good. It's a long year ahead and certainly my finish here was a good way to start it."