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June 02, 1997
Bowie Wins NCAA Final
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June 02, 1997

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Bowie Wins NCAA Final

Judging by the way Texas senior Heather Bowie hung on for a two-shot victory at the NCAA Women's Championships last Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, one would never have guessed that less than 24 hours earlier she was a wreck. Last Friday night Bowie, who transferred to Texas in 1995 after two All-America years at Arizona State, sought out her best friend, Arizona State junior Jody Niemann, and broke into tears. "I don't like being in this position because everyone expects me to win," said Bowie, who held a one-shot lead. "If I don't win, then I'm a failure."

Bowie was also worried about her maternal grandmother, Carol Nutter. During dinner with relatives that evening, Bowie learned that Nutter, 62, who has ovarian cancer, had checked into a Baltimore hospital to undergo further treatment. "I knew Grandma wasn't doing well, so I tried not to think about it," said Bowie, who was competing as an individual because the Longhorns didn't qualify as a team.

Bowie, who's from Edmond, Okla., had to feel as if the world were against her in another respect. The overwhelming presence of foreigners made the NCAAs seem like a United Nations gathering. Eleven players from 11 foreign countries were among the top 20 finishers at the Scarlet Course at Ohio State, including '96 NCAA champ Marisa Baena of Colombia ( Arizona, tied for second place), Janice Moodie of Scotland ( San Jose State, also tied for second), Jessica Lindbergh of Sweden ( Tennessee, sixth) and Thuhashini Selvaratnam of Sri Lanka ( Arizona State. tied for seventh).

Throughout the final round Niemann, who was playing in the group behind Bowie, lent support to her friend through secret hand signals the two of them call Little Sparky. Bowie shot 70, two under par. for a 285 total, and held off late charges from Baena and Moodie, who finished at 287 after rounds of 69 and 71, respectively. Arizona State junior Kellee Booth, fifth at 290, led her Lady Wildcats to the team crown with a 26-over 1,178, two strokes ahead of San Jose State.

After finishing her round, Bowie borrowed her coach's cellular phone and from a quiet area behind the 18th green called her grandmother. "She cried a lot, and I cried a lot," Bowie said. Then at the awards ceremony she grabbed the championship trophy and announced to the crowd, "This is for you, Nana."

Tough Choice Is an Easy Call for Ogrin

Be true to your sport or your spouse? Because of their itinerant lifestyles, pro athletes sometimes have to make that choice. However, when Tour player David Ogrin wrestled with the question in the wee hours of the morning on May 18, he had an added element to factor in.

At 3 a.m., six hours before Ogrin was to tee off in the final round of the Byron Nelson Classic in Irving, Texas, his wife, Sharon, called to say she had just gone into labor at their house near San Antonio. Ogrin was in 53rd place in the tournament, and while winning was out of the question—Tiger Woods took care of that—a great final round could have moved him into the top 10 and earned him $50,000 or so. Complicating Ogrin's decision was the fact that the baby was not his. Sharon was acting as a surrogate mother for her sister Dee, whose husband, James Gomez, is the father. Ogrin says he thought about it for 20 minutes. "Being a basic lunkhead, I wanted to finish the tournament," Ogrin says. "But in the end I had to be there. I wouldn't have missed it for the world."

Ogrin left Irving at 4:30 and drove 250 miles to Methodist hospital in San Antonio, arriving at 9:45. One hour later Jamie Allynn Gomez, niece of David and Sharon Ogrin, was born. "Sharon had the baby, but James and Dee are raising it," says Ogrin, who has four children. "It's a different but wonderful thing to be a part of."

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