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Kooyong Stadium, the site of the Open, has a grass surface, on which upsets are the norm. One hazard of having the tournament open the Grand Slam cycle is that interest in the slam could end as soon as it begins. That seems to be the case this year: It's unlikely that either Edberg or Mandlikova will win all four majors. But the situation could change next year when the Open moves from Kooyong to a new Melbourne facility that might sport a surface other than grass. Be that as it may, it's clear that with a deft switch of dates the 82-year-old Australian tournament has already taken on new life.
The protests being lodged by golf pros regarding architect Pete Dye's PGA West course seem a bit melodramatic. "It's spiteful, hateful," says Ray Floyd of the La Quinta, Calif., layout. "Awful, artificial," says Tom Watson. "Silly," says Bernhard Langer. The golfers say that they intend to submit a petition to g PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman in order to have PGA West, which debuted on the Tour during the Bob Hope Classic a week ago, forever banished from the schedule.
Come on, guys, knock it off. Skiers don't whine about the Hahnenkamm downhill, bicyclists don't demand fewer mountains in the Tour de France. Sure, PGA West is tough—the USGA rates it the toughest in the country. But you're playing with souped-up balls and souped-up clubs and, really, life can't be one short par-5 after another. With its long, deep bunkers, tight fairways and many water hazards, PGA West is indeed a demanding course; it is also very fair. You'll get used to it. And the $162,000 for the winner of the Hope—Corey Pavin took it home this year—is hardly hateful.
REPEL ALL BOARDERS!
This boat competed in Perth, Australia, last week, but, no, it didn't crash the America's Cup races. It was entered in the 36th world 18-foot skiff championship. All 36 have been held in Australia, where for a century the unstable 18-footers have been the choice craft of speed merchants, thrill seekers and all daft sailors.
Virtually the only requirement for an 18-footer is that it be no longer than 18 feet, so designers have reached for the sky with masts as tall as 40 feet. They place those sticks in hulls weighing only 150 pounds, hang acres of sail on them and suspend the crew 11 feet out on trapezes to keep the boats upright. All of this is in the quest for speed. While the 12-meter yachts have been lumbering around the Indian Ocean at a stately eight to nine knots, the 18s have been buzzing around like pesky mosquitoes, reaching sprint speeds of 30 knots.
And crashing and colliding and capsizing. Team USA skipper Jonathan McKee says the 18s are "another animal altogether, a wild bronco, in a class of their own in the sailing world." McKee, sailing in his first world championship, wrestled his bronc to an eighth-place finish among 22 boats. Trevor Barnabas, an Australian of course, won the event.
The peculiarities of 18s racing have, through the years, made for some colorful scenes in the southern seas. Before three sailors per boat became the norm, skippers added or subtracted bodies depending on wind conditions and how much ballast was needed to keep the boat upright. Crews of 15 were not uncommon in a breeze, but if the wind died, sailors were sometimes ordered off the boat and had to swim back to shore.
Legend has it that the most reckless 18s skipper of them all was Tommy Doyle of Sydney. When his boat collided with another in Sydney Harbor in the 1930s, Doyle led the charge as the sailboat race turned into a maritime boxing match. Doyle's boat went under during the melee, but Doyle boarded the opposition's craft and hung on to the mast for 400 meters before being shaken into the water. Competition among the 18s has become more decorous since Doyle's day, but only by degree.