The Big Guns Get Going
When we last saw Annika Sorenstam, she was at a felt-topped table in Las Vegas with her hands on an obscenely large pile of money. Sorenstam, posing at the Desert Inn Golf Course with funny money and real crystal, had just won the 1997 Tour Championship, the money title ($1.2 million) and LPGA player of the year honors, which beats an empty wallet, a hangover and a souvenir poker chip—the standard spoils of America's playground. The queen of red numbers makes her first '98 appearance this week at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale, Calif., as does Australian ace Karrie Webb, the only other player in LPGA history to top $1 million in single-season earnings. Laura Davies, Nancy Lopez and local favorites Helen Alfredsson and Emilee Klein are also scheduled to compete in one of the strongest nonmajor fields in years. Terry-Jo Myers, one of five moms to win on tour last year, defends.
Want to See the Latest? Take a Trip to Tokyo
No other trade show can match the techno-thrills of the Tokyo Merchandise Show, which takes place Feb. 12-15 at the Harumi Ariake Exhibition Site. "The Japanese market is receptive to innovation," says Shekhar Chitnis of Liquidmetal Golf. "Most innovations are in the upper end of the market because they require so much research and design, and the market there is not as price sensitive. Japanese golfers are more affluent than Americans."
Liquidmetal, lighter and stronger than titanium, made its U.S. debut at the recent PGA Merchandise Show but hit Japan last year when Maruman came out with a Liquidmetal putter that retailed at 100,000 yen ($815).
The Hawaiian Highlight Film
Jack Renner craves anonymity, but he has a place in golf lore for saying, "My goal is to play 72 holes someday without changing expression," and for what happened to him in the Hawaiian Open.
It was 15 years ago at Waialae Country Club that Renner, holding a one-shot lead, sat waiting for the only player who had a chance to catch him, Isao Aoki, to finish. Then Aoki holed a 128-yard wedge shot for an eagle and the victory. The sight of Renner, the thin man in the white Ben Hogan cap, looking stunned, is still one of the most enduring in golf.
Renner won the '84 Hawaiian Open—the last of his three Tour wins—but was soon sidelined by illness. These days he manages his investments, plays golf almost daily and does his best to forget the day he got barbecued in Hawaii.