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Seniors lining up for crack at Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus has yet to make his debut on the Senior PGA Tour, but many of the players can't wait. Some are anxious for his arrival because they know it will make the tour even more popular. Others look forward to beating him. Nicklaus' comments in the January issue of Golf Digest have been well read. Many of the seniors were miffed, including Dave Hill and Gary Player, who said he feels Nicklaus owes it to golf to play the senior tour.

Last week at the Aetna Challenge in Naples, after shooting a course-record 64 in the second round, Larry Ziegler joined in.

"He's got to come out and prove he can beat these guys," Ziegler said. "Right now, he's not exactly beating the kids on the other tour. I respect Jack. But I can't believe he's saying some of the things he's saying without coming out here.

"I think he'll be surprised. I know I was when I came out here. Everybody is going to be trying to go for him, to beat him, to stick it to him for what he said."

Here's what Nicklaus said to get his 50-and-over comrades fired up: "The problem for me is that the guys who are competing are the same guys that I have beaten for 30 years. Now, most of the guys who are playing well, with a few exceptions, are the guys who were marginal players when they played on tour.

"Because they were marginal players, they now have the desire to keep playing. The guys who are dominating, I suppose, are Bob Charles and Orville Moody. They were good players but marginal. They weren't exceptional."

Nicklaus' first scheduled senior event is The Tradition, March 29-April 1.

$1.6-million pace: Nicklaus spoke before Lee Trevino joined the tour. Trevino was obviously no marginal player on the regular tour, winning 27 tournaments and six majors. In the three tournaments he has played this year, Trevino has two victories and a second and has won $160,000. At that pace, he will win about $1.6-million this year if he plays in 30 tournaments.

"From tee to green, I can't ever remember striking the ball the way I am now," Trevino said. "I'm in a groove."

Chrysler Cup: The United States leads the series with foreign players 3-1. The purse is $600,000, with $50,000 going to each member of the winning team and $25,000 to each member of the losing team. This is the fourth year the tournament is being played in Sarasota. The first year, it was played at the TPC at Avenel near Washington, D.C. Arnold Palmer made a hole-in-one on the par-3 third hole during the first day of the pro-am competition, then did it again the second day _ on the same hole, with the same club. Last year, Al Geiberger put his 3-iron second shot from 218 yards on the par-5 15th hole at the TPC at Prestancia into the cup for a double-eagle 2.

Late start: Nancy Lopez made her first tournament appearance a little later than usual, opening her season last weekend at the Phar-Mor Inverrary Classic. She had good reason. Just prior to the Oldsmobile Classic the first weekend of February, she had a miscarriage.

"I just wasn't physically or mentally ready to play at the Oldsmobile, but God knows what's best. I hadn't been healthy," she said. "I'm feeling fine now."

Lopez finished second to Jane Crafter, who won her first tournament ever on the LPGA tour.

Disgruntled: Mike Hill, who won the GTE Suncoast Classic two weeks ago, is upset he wasn't chosen for the Chrysler Cup team. Captain Arnold Palmer picked Chi Chi Rodriguez as his last choice on the eight-man U.S. roster. "Yeah, I'm disappointed," Hill said. "I was fifth of the Americans on the money list. Out of eight guys on the Chrysler Cup team, I beat out four of them and wasn't picked. You tell me."

The top four U.S. money winners _ Orville Moody, Al Geiberger, Dave Hill and Don Bies _ automatically made the team. Two more spots were given to the top players from the combined all-time money list who otherwise weren't exempt _ Miller Barber and Lee Trevino. Palmer got in as the top point-getter from last year's team. The final player is the captain's choice.

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