Golf Is a City Game at Virginia Commonwealth
Students at Virginia Commonwealth call their university the Concrete School because the campus is in downtown Richmond. Despite the locale, the school has put together one of the country's best golf teams.
Last May the Rams were invited to the NCAA tournament for the first time. During the fall they won all five of the tournaments in which they participated, but because only one had a top-notch field, Virginia Commonwealth was ranked 28th in the polls and even lower in the minds of the traditional powers. That changed last week after the Ping Arizona Intercollegiate in Tucson, where Virginia Commonwealth turned a few heads by finishing fourth and beating four top-25 teams, including defending national champion Arizona State.
The Rams' recipe for success has been a little luck and a lot of hard work. Coach Jack Bell has spent long hours during his 13 years at Virginia Commonwealth explaining that the Rams don't practice on asphalt—they have many country clubs available to them. Three years ago the message finally got through, and the school signed its first blue-chip recruits, Donny Lee of Coral Springs, Fla., and Miguel Reyes of Uruguay.
The heart of the team, however, is senior John Rollins, a Richmond native who may be the sleeper of the decade. Rollins didn't win any national titles as a junior golfer, and as a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth he rarely broke 80. The next year he junked his draw in favor of a fade, and he's been a force ever since. Last summer he won the Virginia amateur, and his 70.57 scoring average in the fall was third best in the country, behind leader Chris Wollmann of Ohio State, who averaged 70.09. "We are underestimated, and we like it that way," says Rollins, who shot a three-under-par 210 and finished third in Arizona.
Tour May Nix Pix at Pebble
I Cameras clicking and flashes firing have always been a disturbance to pros at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, but spectator frenzy was out of control two weeks ago when Tiger Woods played with Kevin Costner. How bad was it? Ask Steve Stricker, who for the first three rounds was in the same group. "Something must be done about the cameras," says Stricker. "Or, if that's the way they want their tournament, it's not an event I can play anymore. At Poppy Hills it got ridiculous. With all the flashes going off, it was like Kevin had gotten out of his limo at the Academy Awards. Tiger was bothered by it all, too, but he seemed to find a way to deal with it."
Tournament organizers say they have no intention of prohibiting spectator cameras next year, something that is strictly taboo at all other regular Tour events. "We have the most courteous fans in the world," says one official. Maybe so, but the final decision rests with the Tour, and the early line from its headquarters is that there will be changes next year.
The Shag Bag
The top 12 players on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list have an average Sony ranking of 15.7. The average rank of Europe's top 12 is 65.2....