Bury Those Bogeys
Last month Seve Ballesteros and Mac O'Grady drove from Palm Springs Into the California desert with a shoebox of old pictures, fading photos of a swing out of sync. The idea, which came from O'Grady, was to dig a small grave and bury the images of Ballesteros's past. "Not the 70 tournament victories, the five majors or the $10 million in career earnings," Ballesteros explained at the Doral-Ryder Open. "I just felt it was a good idea to bury the bad habits."
Ballesteros started working with O'Grady, a self-styled golf guru, last winter, with notable results. After going winless for all of 1993, he won two European Tour events in late 1994 and was leading this year's Turespa�a Open de Canarias until he was overtaken in the final round by Jarmo Sandelin, of Sweden. Ballesteros now leads the European Ryder Cup points race. He gives much of the credit for his revival to O'Grady, the Bill Lee of golf instructors. O'Grady changed Ballesteros's shoulder turn and swing plane. "I respect Mac very much," Ballesteros says. "To me, as a person, as a golfer and as a teacher, he has all the credibility in the world. Every human being is different."
One of golf's alltime wackiest characters but also one of its purest swingers, O'Grady feels it will be two more years before Ballesteros is totally transformed. They worked together at Doral, where Ballesteros struggled with rounds of 76-72 and missed the cut. "I've finally met somebody more neurotic than I am," O'Grady says. "Seve."
Oh, My Aching Back
Fred Couples went to Miami to play Doral, but he withdrew on March 1 from that tournament and this week's Honda Classic after suffering back pain. His exit sounded alarms. It was at Doral last year that Couples injured his back while warming up for the final round. He subsequently sat out almost four months of the season.
This year, as last, Couples was off to an impressive start. He had played only twice in 1995 in the U.S. but led the European Tour in earnings. He first felt back pain two weeks ago after hitting a shot from the rough during the second round of the Nissan Open at Riviera. He finished 19th in that tournament, then flew home to Dallas to see his physical therapist for deep muscle massages. He now hopes to return for the Nestle Invitational, March 16-19, in Orlando.
Out of the Woods
There has been a restructuring at the top level of International Management Group's golf division, largely as a result of its failure to sign Phil Mickelson when he turned pro in 1992 and its loss last year of three top clients, Greg Norman, Nick Price and Raymond Floyd. Four months ago IMG senior vice president Alastair Johnston, who until then had been responsible mainly for the affairs of Arnold Palmer, was installed over Hughes Norton, who had headed up the company's golf activities. Johnston claims that IMG will reestablish its position in the superstar market very soon.
The key for IMG is signing Stanford freshman Tiger Woods when he turns professional. IMG appeared to have the inside track after Woods's father, Earl, went on its payroll in 1991 as a junior golf scout. The relationship quietly ended last September, however, after Woods won the U.S. Amateur and right before he enrolled at Stanford.