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Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, October 19, 2000

S E N I O R _ P G A _ T O U R

Going for number three. Jim Thorpe has two
straight Senior PGA Tour wins.

Senior swing time

Thorpe's on a roll on the
Senior PGA Tour, and he has his
sights set on Kaanapali win

Tee times in Scoreboard

By Bill Kwon

HE was named after the legendary Jim Thorpe. Now Jim Thorpe, the golfer, is making a name for himself on the Senior PGA Tour.

With back-to-back victories, Thorpe will be going for a hat trick in the $1.1 million EMC Kaanapali Classic starting tomorrow on Maui.

"Wouldn't it be fantastic?" said Thorpe. "If I get it, Tony will get a new Rolex."

Tony is his caddy, Tony Shepherd, who worked the bag in Thorpe's first senior tour victory in the TransAmerica two weeks ago and the Raley's Gold Rush Classic last Sunday.


Bullet Kaanapali North Course, Maui
Bullet Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Bullet Live on ESPN
Bullet Defending champion: Bruce Fleisher
Bullet Purse: $1,100,000

"At this point, I feel like I'm on a roll," said Thorpe, who set tournament records in both victories, including a season-low, 21-under-par 195 last week.

Thorpe, who has never met a casino he didn't like, must have felt lucky. He stopped in Las Vegas en route here.

A victory at Kaanapali would make Thorpe the first on the Senior Tour to win three in a row since Lee Trevino did it in 1992.

A three-time winner on the regular tour, Thorpe felt it was only a matter of time before he'd win on the senior circuit.

He had a decent rookie year in 1999, earning $857,746 with two seconds among his nine top-10 finishes.

Thorpe saw guys he played with -- Bruce Fleisher and Allen Doyle -- winning.

"Why couldn't I win?" he asked himself.

Why not, indeed.

Interestingly, Fleisher and Doyle finished one-two in last year's Kaanapali Classic while Thorpe ended in a tie for 35th.

But Thorpe finished with a final-round 65, so he knows he can shoot those numbers at the par-71 Kaanapali North Course.

Besides the characteristic wide-rim hat that he always wears, Thorpe says he now has another identifying habit.

"Red and black on the final day," he says. Black pants and a red shirt.

Tiger red?

"No question about it," said Thorpe, the ninth of 12 children in the family.

His father, Elbert, who died a few years ago at the age of 84, named him after Jim Thorpe, who was making sports headlines at the time.

"Even today, guys ask me if he was my uncle or some relative," Thorpe said. And imagine the curious buzz when he was a running back at Morgan State during his college days.

Thorpe's brother, Chuck, played on the PGA Tour then. That influenced him into taking up golf.

"I thought it would be a fun way to make a living," said Thorpe, who has pushed his 2000 earnings to $1.4 million and counting.

Seven of the year's top 10 money winners are at Kaanapali, including Hale Irwin, the Senior Tour's all-time money leader with $11.5 million.

Fleisher and Irwin are second and third, respectively, behind Larry Nelson on the 2000 money list.

Nelson, who twice won two in a row this year, isn't in the 78-player field this week. But it's still one of the strongest fields in the tournament's 14-year history.

Former Hawaiian Open champion Hubert Green, who prevented Nelson from winning five straight tournaments this year, will be among those seeking the $165,000 top prize.

Others are 1998 Kaanapali winner Jay Sigel, three-time champion Bob Charles, George Archer, who began the year by winning the MasterCard Championship at Hualalai, and Dave Stockton, a three-time runner-up.

Big Island native Steve Veriato, who finished tied for third last year, former Kapalua pro Dick McClean and Larry Stubblefield, the Aloha Section PGA senior champion, are players with local ties.

All three rounds will be televised live on ESPN.

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