A few weeks ago, Lee Janzen played a round of golf in Phoenix with Charles Barkley of the Suns. Saturday night, while Janzen was asleep, Barkley called to offer luck in the fourth round of the U.S. Open at Baltusrol Golf Club.
Janzen shot 69 on Sunday to win the tournament by two shots over Payne Stewart.
"He left a message to go out and kick some butt and that he was going to do the same," Janzen said of Barkley, whose team played the Chicago Bulls in the sixth game of the NBA Finals on Sunday night. "That was really nice of him to call. It's nice to know that people are out there rooting for you."
Janzen, who said he was rooting for the Suns against the Bulls but is an Orlando Magic fan, lives in Kissimmee. He and his wife, Bev, have bought property in Phoenix and plan to move there.
Watson will be back
Tom Watson will be back in the U.S. Open next year. If not for a few missed putts, perhaps he would have earned an exemption for the next 10.
Watson, this year's United States Ryder Cup team captain, started with a bogey and double-bogey Sunday before rallying for a 1-under-par 69 that left him six shots behind Janzen.
"I'm very happy to be back in the tournament again next year," said Watson, whose 10-year exemption for winning the 1982 Open at Pebble Beach had expired. He was granted a special exemption this year by the USGA and is assured of a spot next year because of his tie for third.
"I played a good round of golf on Friday," Watson said. "I'm happy with the way I'm swinging. I hit a lot of good golf shots. Watson will be back one of these days."
Jack Nicklaus completed his 37th Open, and although his week at Baltusrol was supposed to be a gauge for whether he will play in next month's British Open, he said after shooting a final-round 71 that he still is undecided.
Nicklaus, 53, finished at 9-over 289. That's 17 strokes higher than he finished here in 1980, when he won the tournament and set the Open scoring record. Nicklaus, who has won four Opens, also won here in 1967.
"I played three decent rounds of golf," said Nicklaus, who will play in the Senior Players Championship this week. "I don't think they were three good rounds but three decent rounds _ the first, second and fourth rounds. The third (76) left a little to be desired. But it was nice to come back to Baltusrol."
Long John the second
According to the Newark Star-Ledger, John Daly was not the first player to hit Baltusrol's 17th green in two shots. Billy Farrell did it during the 1967 Open, although the hole was not playing to the 630-yard length it was when Daly accomplished the feat Friday.
Farrell, who is now 57 and the head pro at the Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Conn., said Sunday that the hole measured about 590 yards. "Nobody ever hit it as far as Daly," said Farrell, who used to hook his drives on the adjacent 17th fairway of Baltusrol's Upper Course so he could have a downhill shot to the green. That is not an option for the players now because of corporate tents and out-of-bounds stakes.
Farrell is the youngest son of the late Johnny Farrell, who won the 1928 Open over Bobby Jones.
Bradenton's Paul Azinger briefly made a run Sunday, moving to 3 under for the tournament and pulling within three shots of the lead, but finished tied for third. "I played the last nine holes in 2 under, but it was just too little, too late," he said. Justin Leonard finished as the low amateur with a 288 total. "Getting to play with these guys and seeing their games kind of let's me know where my game needs to be when I'm out here full time," said Leonard, 21, who is at the University of Texas. Sandy Lyle, with a 5-iron, had the tournament's second hole-in-one at the par-3, 206-yard 12th hole. "It was a lovely feeling," said Lyle, who finished with a 72. "But I came straight back with a bogey. Back to the drawing board. That's the way the whole week was going for me." Mike Hulbert also had a hole-in-one there Thursday. Palm Harbor's Brian Claar finished with a 2-over 72 for a 5-over 285 total. Valrico's Pete Jordan finished his first Open with a 75 for 9-over 289. Playing in the first twosome, Robert Gamez and Robert Wrenn showed how fast golf can be played _ even when you are playing poorly. The got around Baltusrol in 2 hours, 38 minutes despite being a combined 14 shots over par. Their accepted pace of play would have been 3:42. British Open champ Nick Faldo was unable to break par at Baltusrol in any round. He finished with 72 for a 9-over 289.
_ BOB HARIG