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SCORECARD
Edited by Steve Wulf
January 21, 1991
A STEAMROLLER FOR REFORM
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January 21, 1991

Scorecard

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Boston Bruins coach Mike Milbury carried loyalty a little too far last week when he announced his additions to the Wales Conference team he will coach in the NHL All-Star Game in Chicago on Jan. 19. Milbury was allowed to pick the 14 reserves who will back up the six starters chosen by the fans, and among his selections was Bruin goon Chris (Knuckles) Nilan, the second-most-penalized player in NHL history. At week's end Nilan had 190 penalty minutes this season—second in the league—and he had more than twice as many fighting majors (13) as goals (6).

Milbury passed over such deserving players as the New Jersey Devils' Peter Stastny, the New York Rangers' Bernie Nicholls and the Philadelphia Flyers' Pelle Eklund. Milbury might also have awarded the All-Star slot to the Quebec Nordiques' Guy Lafleur, the already enshrined Hall of Famer who is retiring after this season. Milbury's wrongheaded move gives the NHL a black eye—something, by the way, that Nilan knows all too much about.

TAG TEAM
The basketball team for Lincoln University in suburban Philadelphia was only 1-12 through Sunday, but the Lions do boast some interesting names. For those of a classical bent, there's freshman center Demetrius Butler. Biblical scholars might want to keep an eye on Methuselah Bradley, a freshman forward. (With that name, he's almost certain to lead the team in minutes.) And boxing fans can cheer when junior guard Don King dishes off to sophomore forward Mike Tyson.

NOT A PRO, JUST PRECOCIOUS

It's something that I've wanted for a long, long time," said Phil Mickelson earnestly. This hardly seems possible. The new champion of the Northern Telecom Open is all of 20. How long could he have wanted it? The professedly long-suffering Mickelson, who shot a 71 on Tucson's rugged StarPass course on Sunday for a 72-hole total of 272—16 under par—had just become the youngest amateur in modern golf history to win a PGA Tour event.

He also had become the fourth amateur winner, period. Gene Littler won the San Diego Open as a 23-year-old amateur in 1954. Two years later 22-year-old Doug Sanders triumphed in the Canadian Open. Scott Verplank, then 21, was the 1985 Western Open champion. Now comes Mickelson, a 6'3" San Diegan with a smooth-as-silk lefthanded swing.

Mickelson, an Arizona State junior who won the NCAA individual championship both as a freshman and a sophomore, played in Tucson under a sponsor's exemption. Nobody gave him much thought until last Saturday, when he scorched the StarPass front nine with a 29. He finished with a 65 and led by two.

On Sunday the collapse that many had anticipated seemed to occur. On the 14th hole, a 506-yard uphill dogleg, Mickelson drove into a cactus, put a three-iron under a tumbleweed and then found sand en route to a triple-bogey eight that dropped him three strokes behind Tom Purtzer. "But he never flinched when he had that bad hole," said Arizona State coach Steve Loy, who caddied for Mickelson. Indeed, while Purtzer was double-bogeying 18, Mickelson was starting his comeback with a tap-in birdie on 16. Calm as could be, he nearly birdied 17 before sinking an eight-footer on 18 for a bird—and the win.

Purtzer, who finished tied with Bob Tway for second—he and Tway shared the first-and second-place prize money of $288,000—said, "You'd have to go back to Nicklaus to find as great a young prospect." That case can be made. When Mickelson won the 1990 U.S. Amateur, he became the only player other than Jack Nicklaus to win that title and the NCAA championship in the same year.

Although Mickelson's victory didn't bring him money, it earned him a three-year exemption to all Tour events. Will this persuade him to leave college early? "It'll make me think about it a bit more," he said. Would he have declared himself a pro last week if he had known the $180,000 first prize would have been his? Mickelson smiled. "What do you think?" he asked.

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