SI Vault
This Week December 16-22
John O'Keefe
December 21, 1998
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December 21, 1998

This Week December 16-22

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Schweppes Coolum Classic, Hyatt Coolum Resort, Sunshine Coast, Queensland
A field of 114 pros will tee it up in pursuit of $190,000 in prize money


Lexus Challenge, LaQuinta Resort and Club, LaQuinta, Calif.
Randy (Dead Solid Perfect) Quaid and Kevin (Tin Cup) Costner try Method acting in reverse


Wendy's Three-Tour Challenge, Reflection Bay Golf Club, Henderson, Nev.
Hale Irwin, Fred Couples and Se Ri Pak lead teams from their tours in an event taped for TV

Australasian Tour
Wanted: Win & Tonic At the Schweppes
Craig (Popeye) Parry, 32, is a three-time Australian Masters winner and has more worldwide victories (14) than Kenny Perry and Chris Perry combined. Though he has notched four top 10s in '98, Parry has nary a victory. This week he'll search for the winning tonic at the Schweppes Coolum Classic in Sunshine Coast, Queensland, where he's the defending champ. Stuart Appleby, Peter Senior and Peter Lonard are also scheduled to compete at Hyatt Coolum Resort, where Parry ended a solid '97 season in which he also won the Japan and Indonesia Opens. Ranked 51st in the world, the Presidents Cupper could qualify for one of the 64 spots in the World Match Play Championship at La Costa, Calif., in February. That may be one of only about 15 Stateside events he plays in '99. After entering at least 20 Tour events for five consecutive years, Parry played in only 16 this year, opting instead to spend more time in Sydney so that his six-year-old daughter, April, could attend school in her native country.

Lexus Challenge
Seniors Get a Boost From Tin Cup, Rocket
Kevin Costner's opening-round eagle was the highlight of last year's Lexus Challenge, and he didn't even have to splash a dozen balls into a pond first. On the first day of the better-ball competition, which pairs a dozen Senior tourists with a dozen celebs of all ages, the celluloid Cinderella of Tin Cup fame jarred his third shot on the par-5 17th. "I was just happy it didn't go in the bunker," said Costner (above), who is a 14 handicap. "Then I heard the crowd roar." The event, now in its fourth season, is a mix of screen stars ( Sean Connery, Randy Quaid, Joe Pesci), pro jocks ( Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey Jr., Alberto Tomba) and golf pros (host Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, Gary Player), not all of whom are just happy to be there. "It was a dogfight out there," said Clemens of the '97 tournament, in which he and Gil Morgan succumbed to Floyd and actor William Devane. Even Tiger Woods stopped by to watch, but he won't be playing in the Challenge anytime soon. Says Floyd, "He's not old enough to get into this field."

Off Course
Getting in on the Ground Floor
With golf companies suffering through months of miserable earnings, massive layoffs and threats of new USGA regulations, golf stocks are reeling. In other words it's a good time to buy. Operated by Golf Investment Management of Vero Beach, Fla., the Golf Associated mutual fund has a New Year's tee time on Wall Street and will begin trading at $10 a share. "The golf industry has bottomed out," says Michael Williams, president of Golf Investment Management. "We're bullish on golf stocks by midyear '99." Industry leader Callaway has seen its stock plummet from a high of $33.95 on February 23, to $10.50 as of Monday's close. Others have followed suit, but about 15% of the fund's assets will include pure golf stocks, with 65% in golf-related companies. Williams's come-on: "Investors can get into a booming industry that has had a temporary setback."

Els's Fun in the Sun
Long before Tiger Woods won five times in 16 starts on the PGA Tour, Ernie Els won six of 10 on South Africa's Sunshine tour. On Dec. 20, 1992, Els shot a final-round 67 to dust Hugh Baiocchi for win number 6 at the Sunshine's year-ending Goodyear Classic. The win capped a banner homecoming for Els, who in '91 had been 0-fer on the Nike tour. He won the South African Open in January '92, and the next week was victorious in the South African PGA. Three weeks later Els came from five back to win his country's Masters, becoming the only man other than Gary Player to win the South African triple crown. In March, Els shot 64-64 on the weekend to win the Sun Classic, and in November he won the Players Championship. A month later the Goodyear capped a great year as Els put the Sunshine tour in a whole new light.