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January 20, 1997
Keep an Eye On These Kids
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January 20, 1997

News And Notes

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Keep an Eye On These Kids

Even as we contemplate whether or not Tiger Woods is the next Jack Nicklaus, the scramble is on to see who will become the next Tiger Woods. Two leading candidates are Diana Davis and Eamonn Hodgson Jr., a pair of talented six-year-olds who are part of an army of globe-trotting, club-toting tykes. "Tiger's bringing them all out of the woodwork," says swing guru David Leadbetter, who just before Christmas was at Miami's Doral Resort to watch Eamonn and Diana play in the seven-and-under division of the Doral Publix Junior Classic. More than 500 juniors, ages six to 18, from 40 states and 30 countries a competed in six age groups in the prestigious tournament.

In the 18-hole boys' seven-and-under competition, played on Doral's par-3 course, Eamonn, from Chester, England, shot 34-40-74 (20 over par) but finished second after losing a sudden-death playoff to a boy 15 months his senior, Johnny Del Prete of Stuart, Fla. Meanwhile Diana, from Pembroke Pines, Fla., won the girls' division, shooting a 48-46-94.

Diana took up the game when she was two as a way to stay close to her dad, Scott, a golf-crazed eight handicapper who practices daily. She played in her first tournament a year later and won. Now the mantel in her family's living room is crowded with trophies as well as a 43-page scrapbook documenting her victories, sometimes over boys four years older than she. Diana, though, is not yearning—yet—to be a golfer. "Maybe I'll be a ballerina or an artist," she says.

Eamonn could care less about ballet, art or even school. Every day after the rigors of kindergarten he practices for four hours while his nongolfing father, a postal worker on disability leave, watches. "When I leave school, I'm going to be a pro," says Eamonn, who can hit a ball more than 125 yards. "I practice always, and I'm good."

Oh, yes, he's cocky. At Doral, Eamonn stuck out his tongue at playing partners on holes when he beat them. He unleashed some unsettling trash talk, to wit, "I'm in front, and I'm going to stay in front."

Like Diana, Eamonn took up golf when he was two. But his parents shielded him from competition until last year, when he won six titles and became so popular in Great Britain that a newspaper, The News of the World, which paid for his trip to Doral, organized a match at Wentworth against former Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Gallacher. Eamonn lost the 12-hole duel by only 12 shots. "When I'm 16, I'm going to challenge Nick Faldo," says Eamonn. "And you know, I'm going to beat him."

New ABC Team Gets Off To an Impressive Start

When you flip on your television set this year, the fresh faces you see won't be limited to youngsters such as Karrie Webb and Tiger Woods. Big changes have reshaped the announcing crews at ABC, CBS and NBC. CBS has a rookie commentator named Ben Crenshaw, as well as a new producer-director, Lance Barrow, who replaced the venerable Frank Chirkinian. NBC has brought in Gary Koch, the former Tour player who had been with ESPN and ABC, to replace Bob Trumpy.

The biggest changes, however, are at ABC, which has largely revamped its team. New are director Jim Jennett, chief analyst Curtis Strange and host Mike Tirico. The network got off to a solid start at the Mercedes Championships. Most impressive was Tirico, who calmly and competently put into perspective the event's significant moments.

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