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Damage Control
Tim Rosaforte
June 24, 1996
A major league effort was needed to salvage opening day at Oakland Hills, Masters bashing, Call him Mr. 29
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June 24, 1996

Damage Control

A major league effort was needed to salvage opening day at Oakland Hills, Masters bashing, Call him Mr. 29

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Last Wednesday afternoon Oakland Hills was transformed from the Monster into a home suitable for the Loch Ness Monster. In less than two hours, a violent thunderstorm dumped more than 2� inches of rain on the course, washing out bunkers and creating a three-foot-deep lake across the 8th fairway. Parts of the 12th and 16th holes were also flooded. Hardest hit was a greenside bunker at the 18th hole, the sides of which caved in during the torrent. The damage was so severe that it appeared there was no way the first round could go off the next morning at 7, as scheduled. But it did, and other than a few squishy spots, it was hard to tell that it had rained at all.

Take a bow, Steve Glossinger. The Oakland Hills superintendent and his crew of 70 worked until midnight, got back after it at 4:30 a.m. and put the mighty South Course together again. Glossinger had plenty of help. Fire engines from neighboring communities and 15 rented pumps were brought in and sucked out about 350 gallons of water a minute. And course superintendents from all over the area volunteered their services and were put to work salvaging fairways and rebuilding bunkers.

Glossinger's work was honored on Saturday evening during a ceremony near the bunker at the 18th, which his crew had rebuilt overnight. It was named Glossinger's Bunker, and a plaque was unveiled that read: "[Donald] Ross has 139 bunkers. Glossinger now has 1."

Fighting Words

NBC learned last week what the players have known for a long time: Johnny Miller's candor can cut both ways. In comments to USA Today Miller, while taking potshots at his network's chief rival in golf coverage, CBS, skewered two institutions NBC has been carefully courting, the Augusta National Golf Club and the PGA of America. To plug the Open, the showcase of NBC's golf coverage, Miller belittled CBS's two majors, the Masters and the PGA. The PGA, he said, had been "left in the wake" of the other three majors. That comment no doubt had the suits at NBC squirming because the PGA controls the Ryder Cup, NBC's second-most-important golf property.

But it was Miller's unfiltered, unflattering comments about the Masters that really upset his bosses. "The Masters has no business being up there with the Open," he was quoted as saying. "It's up there because people have a love affair with flowers and springtime. There's no U.S. title at stake." It is no secret that NBC covets the Masters, which has been working under a year-to-year contract with CBS since 1956 and is always the highest-rated tournament of the season. Miller's dig did not go unnoticed by the lords of Augusta, who, as is their custom on most matters, declined comment. Nevertheless, it's sure to undermine NBC's quiet campaign to woo them.

The brass at NBC quickly distanced themselves from their star analyst. "Johnny's magic comes from the fact that there is no governor," said network sports president Dick Ebersol, echoing praise he has directed toward Miller in the past. But then he added, "I don't happen to agree with him on this one."

Jack Will Be Back

The rousing reception 56-year-old Jack Nicklaus received after finishing 27th at Oakland Hills was right up there with the emotional farewell accorded Arnold Palmer in the '94 U.S. Open at Oakmont in Pittsburgh, but Nicklaus is a sure thing to play in at least one more national championship.

Nicklaus could very well play his way into another Open by winning the U.S. Senior Open. If he fails, the USGA is likely to give him one more exemption—he already has been given four, one less than Arnie received—for the 2000 Open, which will be played at Pebble Beach, Nicklaus's favorite course. "If they want to give me an exemption for Pebble Beach, that would be very nice," he says. "My time has probably come and gone. It's just taken me a few years to finally be able to say it."

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