Saturday, September 25, 1999

KROGER NOTEBOOK


Dry greens turn course into bear

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
and MICHAEL PERRY

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — Nothing at the Kroger Senior Classic is quite the same as it used to be.

        The field is the toughest in memory, with each of the top 10 money-winners on the Senior PGA Tour competing.

        Now, those players are claiming the Grizzly course at the Golf Center at Kings Island is difficult.

        “The golf course is playing tough because the greens are really fast,” said co-leader Jimmy Powell, who shot 4-under 66. “These are the fastest greens we've probably played all year.”

        In two rounds last year, winner Hugh Baiocchi was 7-under par. In 1997, Jay Sigel won at 18-under.

        The owners of the Grizzly altered the course since last year's tournament, adding trees and bunkers, but it's mostly nature that has given the course its bite. The lack of rain has caused the greens to dry and harden.

        Powell wound up at the base of one of the new trees with his drive at 15, but still managed a birdie. He doesn't see a significant difference from the changes at this point, but believes it will be entirely different in 20 years.

        “Those trees are going to grow up,” Powell said. “Some of those fairways are going to be tunnels.”

Ral-Lee
        Legend Lee Trevino, 59, looked as though he would be at or near the top of the leaderboard when he reached 3-under-par with a birdie at the 15th hole.

        He stumbled to consecutive bogeys at the 16th and 17th, however, which ranked among the four toughest holes on the course.

        When ESPN's TV cameras turned on him at the 18th, Trevino pulled himself to within two strokes of the lead by sinking a 15-foot birdie putt. That left him with 2-under 68.

Super senior
Powell is one of only seven players to win a Senior PGA Tour event after turning 60 years old, and he is the only one to do it twice.

        The last time a Super Senior won an event was 13 months ago — Gary Player at the 1998 Northville Long Island Classic.

        “A 60-year-old is not going to win the regular tournament,” Powell said. “It's hard for a 60-year-old to compete with a 50-year-old.”

        Powell also leads the Georgia-Pacific Super Seniors competition — an event within the event for players 60 and over — by two strokes over Mike Hill.

In and out
        Miller Barber, 68, had to withdraw because of bruised ribs suffered when he slipped and fell during the Georgia-Pacific Super Senior Pro-Am Thursday at Beckett Ridge Country Club. Jim Barker took his place in the field.

        It was the first time Barber has missed playing in the Kroger; he has played in 516 official Senior Tour events, more than anyone else. No one is even within 60.

        Gibby Gilbert, the 1992 champion, withdrew Friday after shooting a first-round 7-over-par 77. Tour officials did not know why.

Familiar faces
        There are only six players who have competed in the Kroger for all 10 years of its existence.

        Jim Dent, 60, the first champion here in 1990, has never missed it. Ditto for fellow Super Seniors Gay Brewer, 67, Powell, 64, Terry Dill, 60, and Tom Shaw, 60.

        Rocky Thompson, 59, who finished second in '96, is the youngster of the group.

Used to winning
        Two players are former NCAA champions. Hale Irwin won the title in 1967 at Colorado and John Mahaffey won in 1970 while at Houston.

       



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