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Walker setting bigger goals

There's a cliche in sports these days: "We'll play 'em one game at a time."

That may be sound advice for an athlete or a team that plays a 12-game schedule.

But for a player competing in an individual sport, like golf, that philosophy has to be altered.

Colleen Walker changed her mental approach to the game at the start of the 1992 LPGA season and enjoyed some career-first results.

After 10 years on the tour, Walker decided it was time to think in terms of twos, threes and fours.

She set two goals for the season: to win more than one tournament, and to win one of the four major championships.

Goal No.

1 fell in late May, when she captured the Corning Classic with a 12-under-par total of 276. That victory came five months after she won the $60,000 first-place paycheck at the Oldsmobile Classic, after shooting 279 and beating Dawn Coe in a sudden-death playoff at Wycliffe Country Club in Lake Worth.

Both wins were significant. The first because it was Walker's first win in a playoff, the second because she led wire-to-wire.

"That was the highlight of the year for me," said the 36-year-old Brandon native, referring to her Corning title. "To me, leading fron the first round is more difficult than coming from behind. That was also my second win of the year and I'd never won more than one tournament in one year."

Walker went on to win a third event, the Safeco Classic, just last month, with an 11-under-par 277.

With one tournamnet left on the schedule, the Mazda Japan Classic, she has eight top 10 finishes (in 25 tournaments) and has won a career-best $364,507.

As for goal No. 2? Well, Walker's best finish in a major was tied for 28th at the DuMaurier Limited Classic. But this year's accomplishments give her hope that a major title will come in '93.

"This was my best year in terms of victories, but it wasn't my best as far as consistency," she said.

(In 1988, Walker had 18 top 10 finishes and won the Vare Trophy with an LPGA-best 71.26 scoring average).

"I really believe in myself now. I reached a new level of confidence. I tried not to get down on myself if I had a bad shot or a bad hole. I was more relaxed."

Walker credits sports psychologist Chuck Hogan with helping her reach the new level of success. She's worked with the Arizona-based Hogan for six years, but at the start of the this year both agreed to focus more on winning rather than managing the golf course.

"I spent more time preparing for each tournament by mapping out each hole three weeks in advance. I'm also more playing more aggressively," said Walker. "If I'm really close from 20 yards in and the pin is close, I go for it (a chip-in)."

Walker had 13 chip-ins this year. She plans to "go for it," from 60 yards on in next year.

"I'm going to work real hard on my wedges and my putting during the off-season," said the Florida State grad, who has seven career victories overall. "You've got to be more aggressive out there now because we've had a lot of new, young players join the tour and that's increased the depth. It's more challenging and more difficult to win."

Next up for Walker is the Mazda Japan Classic in November. But for now, she's enjoying a few weeks at home in Brandon with her husband a teacher Ron, and her chocolate Labrador Retriever Hershey.

"It's nice to get home and get away from the tour life for a while," she said. "I'm trying to get golf off my mind for a couple weeks and be a wife."

Tournament time: The Second Annual HBI Budweiser Clasic will be played at the TPC at Cheval Monday. HBI stands for Hispanic Business Institute of Florida, Inc. The tournament is committed to raising funds for the National Hispanic Scholarship Foundation. The format is a four-man scramble. Teams will be flighted by handicap and each team can have only one 0-8 handicap player and a maximum of two players in the 24-plus range.

The winning team in the first flight earns an all expense paid four-day/three-night trip to Palmas del Mar, Humacao, Puerto Rico, for the opportunity to play in the Jose Oquendo Celebrity Golf Tournament. Baseball all-stars such as Fred McGriff, Bobby Bonilla and Eddie Murray are expected to compete in that event.

For more information contact Millie Ortiz at 886-4997.

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