Sports Watch

Bill Kwon

By Bill Kwon

Friday, February 19, 1999

Rittenhouse showing
lots of perseverance

FOR someone who earned less than $13,000 in the last two years, you'd think that Lenore Rittenhouse would want call it quits on the LPGA Tour.

Far from it.

"It's hard for me to say 'retired.' I guess I'm a little stubborn," said Rittenhouse, who shot a 3-over 75 in yesterday's first round of the Sunrise Hawaiian Ladies Open at the Kapolei Golf Course.

"I'm hitting the ball well, I've cured my putting yips. It's just that ... ," the former University of Hawaii golfer said, her voice trailing off.

"That" is what's bothering her, still shaking her confidence. "That" is the chipping and pitching part of her game -- from 20 yards around the green.

"I'm chunking and blading it around the greens. Chunk, blade, chunk," Rittenhouse said.

"I know it's a confidence thing. It's all in your head. I can do it in practice, I can do it in pro-ams. No stress then because I'm just making sure that my amateur partners are having fun. But when it comes to playing in a tournament, it's something else again.

"That's the demon I'm fighting in me, right now. I don't want to quit like that," she said.

As a nonexempt player, Rittenhouse, whose only tour victory was the United Virginia Bank Classic in 1983, won't get to play much early in the year. She failed the Monday qualifying in the tour's season opener, the HealthSouth Classic in Orlando, Fla, in mid-January.

She plans to work on her game in a couple of Futures Tour events in California next month, when the LPGA Tour swings through Tucson and Phoenix.

"That's humbling in itself. A lot of people in my age-group wouldn't do that," said Rittenhouse, who's 43. But it also shows her determination to clear that one more hurdle.

If only finding her short game could be as easy as adding to her still-growing dog "pound." Rittenhouse recently adopted another pooch named "Jack," who joins 12-year-old "Lady," her first pet project, "T-Bar" and "Utah," which she she got as a pup for winning a pro-am in Salt Lake City two years ago.

They're all back home in West End, N.C., near Pinehurst, with husband Tom and their 7-year-old son, William.

"He's growing up so fast," said Rittenhouse. "He's taking violin and taekwondo and learning Korean from his instructor. Unbelievable. I hope he doesn't use taekwondo on his violin."

WOMEN'S TEE: The LPGA's hogging the local golf spotlight, but soon the local women amateurs will start teeing it up in earnest.

The Hawaii State Women's Golf Association starts it off with a senior better-ball tournament at Hickam on March 1. Then it'll be the All-Services Tournament March 29-30 at the Kalakaua and Hickam golf courses, respectively.

The Jennie K. Wilson at the Mid-Pacific Country Club May 14-16 will be the first of the local women "majors." The two others are the HSWGA Match Play Championship at the Oahu Country Club, June 14-17, and the HSWGA Stroke Play Championship at Mid-Pac, Aug. 2-4.

Among the other leading women's events are the Moanalua Invitational, June 17-18; Waialae Invitational, July 12-13; Pua Melia Invitational (Olomana), July 22-23; Maui Invitational, July 31 and Aug. 1; Oahu Country Club Invitational, Aug. 12-13; HSWGA Senior Women's Championship (Hickam), Sept. 20; and the HSWGA Neighbor Island Tournament (Kona), Oct. 30-31.

Women interested in the local qualifying for the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Pueblo, N.M., June 22-27, should call Judy Tonda at 486-8699, or Mary Bea Porter King at 1-822-2741.

Golf Watch, which will run every Friday, welcomes readers' anecdotes, questions and comments. Send to Bill Kwon at Star-Bulletin sports fax number 525-5497.

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

E-mail to Sports Editor

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