Houston Oilers placekicker Al Del Greco again proved he is the best golfing gridder last Saturday by winning his fourth straight NFL Players Championship, which is played along with a Senior tour event, with a two-under-par 70. But to hear Baltimore Ravens tight end Brian Kinchen tell it, NFL players like Del Greco have an edge.
The 6'2", 240-pound Kinchen, whose 73 tied John Elway of the Denver Broncos for second, says kickers and quarterbacks don't have to train as much as players in more physical positions, like his. "Hey, I'm in the weight room two hours a day," Kinchen says. "They go for an hour at most. I bust my butt running for two hours. They jog for a half hour." And that, claims Kinchen, leaves more time for golf. Also, all the weightlifting has limited Kinchen's range of motion. His four handicap is a triumph of athleticism over biomechanics.
Del Greco, one of Kinchen's close friends, has a fluid swing, but he attributes his success to course management and the mental game. Del Greco works with teaching pro Jim McLean and in the off-season plays or practices five days a week. "He has wonderful tempo and a great understanding of shots around the green," says Bob Murphy, who won the Senior tour segment.
Del Greco says tournament golf requires a level of concentration that is useful in football. "I don't think there's a way you can teach people to block things out," he says, comparing golf shots to kicking. "That's what separates guys who make it as kickers from those who don't. Being able to block out the negative thoughts helps you out here."
Gerring In, Alcott Out
That was the big news to come out of qualifying for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Pine Needles in Southern Pines, N.C. Cathy Gerring, who played her first LPGA tournament in four years earlier this month at the Sprint Titleholders, eagled the 17th hole, shot 73 and birdied the first hole of a playoff at Myers Park in Charlotte to earn a spot in the field. She had been inactive since suffering second-and third-degree burns on her hands and face in a fire at the 1992 Sara Lee Classic.
It was Amy Alcott's case, however, that raised eyebrows in some USGA circles. Alcott, who won the Open in 1980 and received an exemption in 1994, shot an 81 in qualifying at Hartefeld National in Avondale, Pa. Many, including Gerring, believe Alcott should have been exempted. The USGA instead invited two past champions, JoAnne Carner and Hollis Stacy, as well as Donna Andrews, who lives in Pinehurst, N.C.
"I think [Alcott] has a record that deserves being in a few Opens past being exempt," says Gerring. "They gave one to somebody [Andrews] who doesn't have the record Amy has. It looks like they did it just to sell tickets." Some USGA officials concur, speculating that if Alcott lived in Pinehurst instead of Santa Monica, Calif., she would have been granted an exemption.
Colonial is lobbying for the 2003 Ryder Cup, and Kerry Haigh, the PGA's senior director for tournaments, scouted the course last week....