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A Tiger-Killer Looks For Help in the U.S.
During the summer of 1995, Gordon Sherry was a celebrated 21-year-old Scottish amateur who was beating Tiger Woods regularly, even getting into Woods's pocket for a £1 bet for low finish at the Scottish Open. Now Sherry is a struggling pro in Scottsdale, Ariz., trying to avoid becoming golf's biggest footnote.
The 6'8", 230-pound Sherry won the '95 British Amateur, then a month later dusted Woods at the Scottish Open, tying for fourth while Woods was 49th. The next week Sherry was in contention in the first two rounds of the British Open before finishing 40th, 28 spots better than Woods. Sherry ended the season by winning both of his singles matches in Great Britain-Ireland's defeat of the Woods-led U.S. team in the Walker Cup. Instead of joining the European tour, Sherry returned to Stirling University and earned a degree in biochemistry. He turned pro last May and was expected to make headlines, but a string of bad luck ruined his debut. He played in only 12 European events (his best finish was 39th at the Loch Lomond World Invitational) and pulled out of six others because of a variety of ailments—including one of the strangest ever to befall a power-forward-sized golf pro. Sherry had to withdraw from the Scottish Open after an overzealous fan head-butted him at a soccer game and gave him whiplash.
By summer Sherry had mononucleosis but didn't know it and was sleepwalking through tournaments when he should have been resting. "There was a lot of pressure to play," says Sherry, who won $19,302 and failed to regain his card at the European qualifying school in December. "A lot of people wanted me to play, and I wanted to. Thinking back, there were plenty of tournaments I never should have entered."
To rejuvenate his career, Sherry is spending the winter in Scottsdale, practicing at Desert Mountain Golf Club. Recently he visited Titleist's plant in Carlsbad, Calif., and was fitted for new clubs. Sherry had been using standard-length irons his whole career. His new set has shafts that are an inch and a half longer. "The difference is just incredible," he says.
As for his schedule, Sherry is exempt on the Challenge tour, Europe's equivalent of the Nike tour. He's also trying to get exemptions into tournaments on the Tour's West Coast swing. Perhaps he should give his old pal Tiger a ring.
Hole from Hell
Pro golfers are able to play in the rain, but a strong wind can stop them cold, which is precisely what happened during the first round of last week's MasterCard Championship, the season-opening event on the Senior tour, featuring a field of last year's winners.
When a storm packing 40-mph winds slammed Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, last Friday, the normally docile 7,053-yard, par-72 course at Hualalai resort was transformed into a monster. The hardest hole was the 505-yard par-5 4th, which was played into the teeth of the wind. Dale Douglass hit driver three times and was still short of the green. He wound up making a 9. Jack Nicklaus and Dave Stockton each made 8—without a penalty shot. Overall, the 25-man field played the hole in an even 6.00 strokes. "You weren't sure what would happen," said Walter Morgan, who made a 7 at the 4th and finished with a career-high round of 86. "It was a four-or five-club wind."
The Shag Bag