Yanks Favored in Four
Teams from a record 59 nations have entered the biennial World Amateur Team Championship, a four-day, 72-hole event in which each four-man squad gets to erase its worst round every day. The U.S. roster reads like a who's who of amateur golf: '97 U.S. Amateur champion Matt Kuchar (above); his successor, Hank Kuehne; Walker Cupper Joel Kribel; and 44-year-old convenience store magnate Tom McKnight, the U.S. Amateur runner-up and team father figure. The Yanks, who finished ninth two years ago, figure they've got the horses to beat defending champ Australia to the checkered flag.
The Hole at the End of the Rainbow
The most gut-wrenching, knee-knocking putt of the year—and the only one worth $1 million—will be struck by Al Flowers, a father of five from Virginia Beach who says his handicap is "around 20." Flowers, 37, won a sweepstakes at a Winn-Dixie supermarket in March to get into a regional putting competition, where he made eight of 10 seven-foot putts. That put him in the national finals in Bermuda, where he again sank eight of 10 seven-footers to earn a shot at $1 million. He wins the million if he can roll in a single 10-footer next week at the Westin Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla. Flowers's 15 seconds of fame will be telecast by ABC at about 3:25 p.m. on Nov. 29 during the Gillette Tour Challenge Championship. Flowers, who'll get $50,000 even if he misses, devotes only a few hours a week to practicing his putting. "My philosophy is simple," he says. "Pray for 30 minutes, practice for five."
Twenty-five years ago at the World Cup of Golf in Marbella, Spain, Johnny Miller and Jack Nicklaus won America's 12th Cup. The main reason was Miller's second-round 65, a vintage Miller sizzler that easily bettered his opening 73. "Nobody approached the improvement registered by Miller," The New York Times proclaimed, forgetting that Romania's Dumitru Munteanu had turned in a relatively sparkling 89 after a first-round 103. Even Munteanu, however, would have admitted that Miller was a killer in '73, a year in which he shot 63 to win the U.S. Open, nearly won the British Open and played pool with Vice President Spiro Agnew at Frank Sinatra's house in Palm Springs. Nicklaus earned $1,300 at the '73 World Cup, while Miller got a $2,000 check and the Czechs, Jiri Dvorak and Jaromir Fuchs—stymied by visa problems back home—canceled.