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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -- Michelle McGann, who joined the LPGA Tour
straight out of high school nine years ago, didn't win her first
tournament until the spring of 1995.
She's been on a roll ever since -- racking up five more victories and
more than $2 million in career earnings. And she wasn't easing up at the
LPGA Rochester International on Thursday.
McGann opened with a 6-under-par 66, dropping a 12-foot birdie putt on
the 18th hole to vault ahead of Nancy Scranton.
Lori West and Michelle Estill joined Nanci Bowen and Nancy Ramsbottom in
a four-way tie at 68 at Locust Hill Country Club. One shot further back
among a group of seven was defending champion Dottie Pepper.
``To come out at such a young age, you have to learn. For me, it wasn't
instant success,'' said McGann, now 27.
Aided by consistency, rising confidence and ``a little bit of luck,''
she says she now has ``the knowledge of how to win -- going out there
and being very calm, expecting to hit good shots instead of being
surprised, and just kind of going with it.''
It helps when the putts drop.
``That's what the game boils down to,'' she said. ``I could hit all
those great drives and hit great shots in there, but if I didn't make
the putts, what good was it?''
McGann was accurate and long off the tee, leaving her with many
short-iron approach shots that she could rifle right into the slightly
soft greens. Her longest birdie putt was from 20 feet on the 12th hole.
Scranton jump-started her round with an eagle on the fourth hole as her
165-yard, 4-iron shot from the rough bounced into the hole. She followed
with three consecutive birdies, notably chipping in from 25 yards.
``I told my caddy, `I haven't had a whole lot of great things happen,
I'll take that,''' said Scranton, who had a left shoulder injury for two
years before undergoing reconstructive surgery. She has played only once
in 1996 and missed the cut in eight of 12 outings this year.
``It's been frustrating, but I know I'm on the right track,'' she said.
``I don't feel like I'm there yet, but this helps. And the more I play,
the easier it gets.''
Scranton, 36, has won twice in 13 years on tour, in 1991 and 1992. Her
injury has hurt her off the tee and the fairway, but ``my short game has gotten much better than it used to be -- out of necessity, I think.''
IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Chad Hennings has re-enlisted for five more years
with the Dallas Cowboys.
The one-time Air Force cadet, who has one year left on his contract,
signed a four-year extension Thursday, keeping the defensive lineman
from becoming a free agent after this season.
The new contract is worth $7 million, including a $2.3 million signing
bonus, said Jack Mills, his Denver-based agent. Hennings' current
contract, signed in 1994, expires after the coming $850,000 season.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the extension was essential in keeping
together the core of players who have brought the team two Super Bowl
``Chad has long been seen as one of our top two or three defensive
players,'' Jones said. ``He speaks to work ethic, he speaks to
discipline; he brought that from the Air Force.''
Hennings won the Outland Trophy in 1987 at Air Force, then delayed the
start of his pro career while serving in the military. He joined the
Cowboys in June 1992 after being a pilot in the Air Force and fighting
in the Gulf War.
``The commitment that the Cowboys have showed me goes above and beyond
the call of duty,'' Hennings said. ``I'm ready to get back on the field
Mills said the pro-active move by the Cowboys will let Hennings
concentrate more on the upcoming season.
``This move will allow him to really get ready and train without any
apprehension about what could happen in the future,'' Mills said. ``Chad
wanted to play in Dallas and we didn't want to go to a free agency
Hennings has been seen as one of the good guys in a Cowboys locker room
shadowed by controversy and trouble.
``I'm not embarrassed by it,'' Hennings said. ``I was more or less hurt
by them because I know these individuals and I know the character of
these individuals. But I've noticed a difference in the way guys are
coming to work,'' he said.
``Guys are working hard, and want to get back to what we all want to get back to -- and that's to win Super Bowls.''
HARRISON, N.Y. (AP) -- Pardon Brad Faxon and the rest of the golfers at
the Buick Classic for regarding Ernie Els as something more than, well,
``What's his resting heart rate, like 35?'' Faxon said. ``I mean, he'll
never die. He won't.''
A 7-under-par round of 64, like Els shot Thursday to lead Faxon by two
strokes after the first round of the Buick Classic, will do that for
Els, coming off a dramatic victory in the U.S. Open last weekend and
defending his Buick Classic title this weekend, hardly needs any help to
appear larger than life at the Westchester Country Club.
In the three previous times the South African has played here, he has
finished second, tied for fourth and, last year, he ran away with an
8-stroke victory. He's been at par or better in 12 of the 13 rounds he's
played at Westchester competitively.
Never before, however, had he shot 64 here.
``I think the golf course really flows nicely,'' Els said. ``Every hole
is different. You've got some birdie opportunities out there. You've got
some short par 4s. You can reach some of the par 5s (in two) and then
you've got some really tough par 4s and par 3s. So it's got a nice
In truth, though, Els has found all the holes, hard or easy, to his
liking. Els has always played at Westchester with an easygoing air,
chomping on his gum and with his face creased in a half-smile. The
danger from the course's thick rough, lush woods and undulating greens
have never seemed to faze him.
He had eight birdies Thursday and, had he not made his only bogey by
leaving a short par putt on the lip of No. 8, he would have tied the
Buick Classic record of 63 for low first round.
Combine a course Els seemingly has command over with the momentum he
brings into this weekend from his Open win at Congressional last week,
and you have a golfer who acknowledged he is in a ``zone,'' where nearly
every shot seems to be a good one.
``I don't know how to explain it,'' Els said. ``I'm playing well. I
should go with it now. I shouldn't hold back at all. I'm not going to
Faxon shot 66. Jeff Maggert, Vijay Singh, Paul Azinger and Jim Furyk
were all a stroke behind Faxon.
Tiger Woods bogeyed four of his first six holes, but birdied the last
two to finish with a 1-over 72.
Despite his indifferent round, Woods was one of several pros who praised
the 6,722-yard Westchester course.
``It's a pretty good golf course, I'll tell you that,'' he said. ``It's
not gimmicked up. It's a golf course set on natural topography, and you
don't see that too often anymore.''
Azinger, still seeking his first tour victory since he was diagnosed
with cancer in 1993, said he vowed never to play here again after he
missed the cut in 1984. But he realized that the fault was due to his
own lack of ability, not the layout of the course.
``I didn't like it,'' said Azinger, who returned in 1989 and finished
second the next year. ``It was too hilly. I couldn't play. I had no
game. I couldn't hit it in the fairway.''
Azinger said his experience was much like Mark Calcavecchia's. He missed
five straight cuts from 1982 to 1986, finished tied for 62nd in 1988 and
didn't come back to Westchester until this week.
``He made a comment, ``I guess I never liked it because I didn't have
any game,''' Azinger said. ``Now `Calc's' got some game and he likes the
golf course. When you're from Florida and you're used to flat courses
and you come up here and play all the elevation changes, it's not that
Calcavecchia shot an even-par 71 Thursday. The winner of the $1.5 million Buick Classic will earn $270,000.
Add George Brett's name to the list of people who love the look of
The future Hall of Famer is so enthused that he's even planning to make
a comeback -- sort of -- when the Kansas City Royals visit the Chicago
Cubs in two weeks.
``I never got a chance to play in Wrigley Field,'' the Royals vice
president, now 44, said Thursday at a charity event in Philadelphia.
``I'm suiting up, throwing batting practice and hitting fungoes before
the game. I'm looking forward to that.''
He's got company, too.
Created to attract more interest in baseball, the first week of
interleague play was a big hit at the gate. Attendance was up 35 percent
for the AL-NL matchups, with the 84 games drawing an average of 34,922
No surprise, crowds at the Subway Series in New York and the Windy City
rivalry in Chicago set attendance records. Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and San
Francisco were among other teams with strong showings.
Of the 28 major league clubs, only San Diego and Minnesota did not
``Interleague play has been phenomenal for baseball,'' Mets owner Fred
Clearly, the first round was bolstered by attractive matchups. When
interleague play resumes from June 30-July 3, the highlights will be a
World Series rematch between the Yankees and Atlanta, an all-Canada
meeting of the Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays and Brett's
appearance at Wrigley Field.
While fans seemed to be the big winner, the AL teams also fared well. AL
clubs went 48-36 against NL competition, with the Boston Red Sox doing
the best at 5-1.
``Maybe this means we're ready,'' said Red Sox pitcher Vaughn Eshelman,
who bunted for a hit against the Mets.
Not many other AL pitchers reached base, though. Forced to hit at
opposing parks, AL pitchers batted .108, while their NL counterparts hit
San Francisco and Montreal also went 5-1, with the Expos becoming the
first team of any kind to win a series at Baltimore this year. Not all
of the Giants were so happy with this new concept, however.
``I'm glad to see the American League get out of here,'' San Francisco
infielder Jeff Kent said. ``I don't like the pace or the way they do
things. That's why I wanted to come back to the National League.''
Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina saved the bat and helmet from his hit
against Atlanta's John Smoltz, but still isn't a big believer in
baseball's new idea.
``I wish it would go back to the way it was,'' he said.
Many players in both leagues noticed a difference in style, with the NL
games seeming a lot quicker.
``Their guys go up there looking to swing the bat. They're not up there
to waste time,'' Texas' Mark McLemore said.
On Thursday, teams returned to playing in their own leagues. There will
be two more interleague periods, later this month and from Aug. 28-Sept.
``The interleague thing went well, but there's been so much said about
it, I'm all talked out,'' Cubs manager Jim Riggleman said. ``I know it's
good for the game and good for the fans, but I'm glad it's time for a
Interleague play has already been approved for next year -- after that,
it requires the approval of the players and owners.
Pete Rose, who admits he was a hard sell, likes what he's seen so far.
But the career National Leaguer was sorry baseball had to resort to
``If it's good for the fans, that's what it's all about,'' the majors'
career hits leader said Thursday in Philadelphia. ``It's kind of a shame
we have to do things like this to generate interest in baseball.''
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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