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July 14, 1997
Famous 18th Gets a Face-lift
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July 14, 1997

News And Notes

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Robbins bettered by three strokes the previous 72-hole LPGA scoring record of 268 set by Nancy Lopez at the Henredon Classic in 1985 and tied by Beth Daniel at the '94 Oldsmobile Classic. "To be recognized as someone who can shoot numbers like that is great," said Robbins, who earned $105,000 for her second victory of the season. "I put together four really good days of golf. It was a very rewarding week."

Amputee in First Stage Of British Qualifying

On Monday, in the first stage of qualifying for next week's British Open, Geoff Nicholas shot 75 at the South Herts Club outside London and failed to advance. A 36-year-old from New South Wales who last season earned $3,581 on the Australasian tour, Nicholas was noteworthy because he is an amputee. A thalidomide victim, Nicholas was born with three toes on his right foot and two on his left, and at 13 his right leg had to be amputated below the knee. Wearing a prosthesis, Nicholas lowered his handicap to a three. In 1990 he won the inaugural British amputee championship and has successfully defended his title every year since. He has also won the U.S. amputee tournament eight years running and in '96 won the world amputee event by 28 strokes.

Nicholas has spent countless Mondays trying—most of the time unsuccessfully—to qualify for Australasian tour events. "I only drive 260 yards, but I hit it pretty straight," says the 5'7" Nicholas. "Overall I feel I can swing as well as anyone."

The artificial limb has caused some hardships. Before the qualifying tournament for last year's British Open, Nicholas was on the practice tee when a bolt on his prosthesis snapped. By the time he repaired it, he had missed his tee time and was disqualified. "That was awfully disappointing," he says. "I'd qualified for three events in a row and was 62nd at the Australian Open, so I was having a good year."

Nicholas, who moonlights as I a teaching pro at the Cronulla Club outside Sydney, has earned the admiration of the other players. "His story is simply amazing, and it's particularly inspiring to people who know what a tough game golf can be," says fellow Aussie Wayne Grady. "He has every right to sit back and be proud of what he has accomplished, but he has goals and wants to keep improving. You can't help pulling for the guy."

Tour Pros Have Faith In Larry Moody

To many Tour players, the Reverend Larry Moody is as much a part of the scene as programs, free equipment and courtesy cars. Moody, 49, is the Tour's unofficial chaplain, and his role took on particular significance at last week's Western Open. On Wednesday evening in the clubhouse at Cog Hill, Moody led a well-attended memorial service I for Jeff (Squeeky) Medlen, the caddie who died on June 16 after a yearlong battle with leukemia. "It was a very emotional, very special occasion," says Scott Simpson. "Everybody loved Squeeky, and this was our chance to come together as a group and show his wife and family how much he meant to us."

For Moody, leading the ser-vice was simply a part of his ministry. Every Wednesday during the Tour season, Moody or a representative from the organization he runs, Search Ministries Inc., leads a nondenominational Bible study meeting for the players, caddies and their families. Between 20 and 60 players attend the hour-long sessions, which are held in hotel meeting rooms or at tournament sites. Regulars, in addition to Simpson, include Paul Azinger, Steve Jones, Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin and Paul Stankowski. "Larry knows a lot about the Bible, and he helps us understand how the Scriptures apply to life," says Lehman. "It doesn't have anything to do with golf, but it provides a sense of peace and calmness that can help you whether you're on the golf course or at home with your family."

Moody, an ordained minister from Ellicott City, Md., got his start in sports ministry working with the Baltimore Colts in the late 1970s, then switched to the Tour in 1980 at the behest of some of the pros. Moody's travel expenses are paid by the players, and he personally attends about 25 tournaments a year, arriving on Tuesday and leaving Thursday. Why meet on Wednesdays? "Half the field is gone by Friday," says Moody, "and on Sunday morning anybody left is out practicing."

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