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Golf Today 5th January
Laura Davies aiming to get back to No.1
Leonard to play in Dubai Desert Classic
Who can compete against Tiger in 2000
Lawrie cashing in Open win in US
Golf Notes January 5

Golf Notes January 5

There's no place like the Mercedes Championship to have a ball.

A golf ball, that is.

Last year, Taylor Made's new golf ball made its debut at Kapalua. This time, the spotlight is on Callaway's new ball, which has been one of the best kept secrets in the industry. It will not be unveiled until the PGA Merchandise Show next month, although Rocco Mediate and Brian Henninger are among those using the Callaway ball this week.

Mediate had a plain white box of the balls -- and a black magic marker -- when he went out for a practice round Tuesday. The pen was to scratch out the logo, at the request of the company.

Vijay Singh also has new equipment, having ended his relationship with Wilson. The former PGA champion now has an endorsement to play Cleveland irons.

And David Duval is no longer a poster boy for Tommy Hilfiger. Duval, the defending champion, has signed a new apparel deal with Mossimo.

``They obviously have a good feel for where fashion is headed,'' Duval said.

GWAA AWARDS

The Golf Writers Association of America has honored Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal for his comeback and Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez for her contributions to golf.

Olazabal was voted as the winner of the Ben Hogan Award, given annually to the player who has continued to be active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness.

The 33-year-old Spaniard was out of golf for 18 months and feared he might never walk again. The pain in his feet was finally traced to back problems, and Olazabal returned to win the Masters by two strokes.

He won the award in a runaway vote over Jack Nicklaus, who returned from hip replacement surgery to compete in his 42nd straight U.S. Open, and Greg Norman, who came back from shoulder surgery to make another run in the Masters.

Lopez won the William D. Richardson Award for those who have consistently made outstanding contributions to golf.

The LPGA Hall of Famer has been an advocate for women's health issues and has raised money for Adventures in Movements and Winshape Homes. She also is the founder of NancyLopez Golf.

Lopez won the USGA's Bobby Jones Award in 1988, and the Nancy Lopez Award is presented each year to the world's best female amateur.

She won the award in a close vote over former USGA president Judy Bell and longtime Augusta National secretary Charles Yates.

Lopez and Olazabal will be honored at the GWAA's annual dinner April 5 in Augusta, Ga., along with the organization's players of the year -- Tiger Woods,Juli Inkster and Bruce Fleisher.

BIG DESIGNS

The 9,000-yard golf course hasn't arrived, but Tom Lehman certainly had length in mind while designing a new course in Arizona. The top feature? A par-5 that measures a mere 705 yards from the back tee.

``There's a 100-foot drop in elevation,'' the formerOpen champion said.

Lehman said his intentions were merely to create a ``legitimate'' three-shot hole.

``We wanted to make it so the second shot wasn't just a 7-iron. The only way to do it is to make it longer,'' he said.

Lehman says he usually plays the hole with a driver, a 3-wood and then a 9-iron or wedge. But he insists someone could get home in two with a strong wind and warm, dry conditions.

``A long hitter could probably drive it 370, 380 on that hole, which would leave 300 to the front edge,'' he said. ``And it's downhill. If it's with the wind, that's definitely reachable.''

By the way, there's also a ravine some 40 yards short of the green.

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS

The staff of the Mercedes Championship asked its field of PGA Tour winners from 1999 about its New Year's resolutions.

Brad Faxon had perhaps the smartest idea.

``I'm going to make sure I stay off ladders and ski slopes,'' said Faxon, who season was cut short because of injuries involving both. Faxon still managed to win the B.C. Open to qualify for the Mercedes.

Tiger Woods wants to build on what he accomplished in '99 -- which was a lot -- while J.L. Lewis, the 39-year-old who won for the first time on tour, aimed high.

``I want to win four PGA Tour events and one major,'' he said.

Jim Furyk and Steve Elkington were not ready to commit.

``I don't want to pin myself down,'' Elkington said. ``A millennium is along time and all.''

GOOD KNIGHT

Laura Davies will be among those bestowed with one of England's highest honors this year. She will be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

Davies previously was named a Member of the British Empire in 1988 after she won the U.S. Open. Other athletes who will be knighted this year include Olympic gold medalist figure skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, two-time decathlon champion Daley Thompson, Grand Prix driver Stirling Moss andsoccer star Ian Wright.

DIVOTS

Mark O'Meara's days as a world traveler are not about to end with the new year. He has committed to play in the Dubai Desert Classic in the United Arab Emirates the first week in March, right after the Match Play Championship in Carlsbard, Calif. O'Meara finished 25th at Dubai last year. ... The only continent Jack Nicklaus has yet to visit is Antartica. ``I have no desire to go there,'' he said. ``I don't have any courses there.'' ... Australian amateur Aaron Baddeley plans to play the Honda Classic and Bay Hill Invitational to prepare for the Masters. ...

STAT OF THE WEEK

While they have 24 PGA Tour victories between them, Phil Mickelson (Nelson Classic) and David Duval (Houston Open) have only victory apiece in tournaments between the Masters and the PGA Championship.

FINAL WORD

``With Payne, I didn't want to ask. But I'm happy they made the decision they did.'' -- Gabriel Hjertstedt on getting in the Masters. Although he was 41st on the money list, Augusta National included him in the top 40 because of Payne Stewart's death.

 

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