He received a lot of attention Wednesday, but it had nothing to do with his golf game. Sam Wyche admitted his swing is a bit out of sync, but that's understandable. The new coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had played only nine holes since July.
So what does he do? He goes out and birdies his first hole, the 495-yard, par-5 12th. A good omen? Perhaps. It gave his pro-am team, headed by Senior PGA Tour player John Brodie, an eagle on the hole.
"I'll get better," Wyche promised. "I'm a 15 handicap right now, but I will get it down to 10 or 11. That's what usually happens, and then I put the clubs away for football season."
Wyche's pairing with Brodie may or may not have been a coincidence. Brodie, who won his first tournament on the senior tour last year, used to play quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and made his home in the area after his career was finished. About that time, Wyche played for the 49ers, and the two became friends.
The team finished with an 11-under-par 60 in the morning round of the Publix Pro-Am. After another day of pro-am activity today, the GTE Suncoast Classic begins on Friday.
Chi Chi leads pros at 67
In the Publix Pro-Am, Chi Chi Rodriguez led the pros with a 4-under-par 67 and was followed by Gary Player, Charles Coody and Walter Morgan at 68.
In the team competition, Doug Ford's group shot a 17-under-par 54 in the best-ball competition.
Amateur Bob Evans made a hole-in-one at the par-3 sixth hole. He used a 9-iron.
Today, there will be shotgun starts at 7:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Nicklaus, Hill on missing list
The GTE Suncoast Classic typically gets a strong field, and this year is no exception. The only players missing from the top 30 on the 1991 money list are Jack Nicklaus (17th) and Dave Hill (30th).
Actually, Hill and J.C. Snead were suspended for the first three tournaments this year after the two got into a scuffle at a tournament late last season. The tour has not acknowledged that the players were suspended, but apparently both had the right to appeal.
That's why Snead, who finished 20th last week in Naples, is playing, and Hill, who decided not to appeal, is at home.
_ BOB HARIG