At the last minute, Marta Figueras-Dotti had to change her plans and make airline reservations for Florida. But it was more a privilege than an inconvenience.
Figueras-Dotti readjusted her schedule to come to the Chrysler-Plymouth Tournament of Champions because she won the Hawaiian Ladies Open 10 days ago. You can't blame her for not expecting to make this trip to Orlando. Her Hawaiian Open win was her first, after 11 years on the LPGA tour.
"I was just very excited and very relieved," she said. "It was an unbelievable feeling, just as I had imagined it."
The highest she ever had finished was tied for second, in 1984. She tied for fourth in a tournament last year. In 1994, she is the leading money-winner after two events, with $75,365.
She chose the hero of the Olympics for her inspiration: Dan Jansen. "Like him, I wanted people finally to be happy for me, rather than feel sorry for myself," said Figueras-Dotti, a native of Spain, where her father was the president of the Spanish Golf Association.
Ten days later, however, Figueras-Dotti saw the more familiar side of the field. She had 79, 7 over, on Wednesday.
"I knew it was a wild day and I didn't hit it good enough. I lost my timing," she said. "Really, though, I'm just happy to be here, so I can't complain."
Lopez tries low-stress life
Nancy Lopez started her round with a par and two birdies but finished it 3 over. Still, she's only four shots behind _ not bad after skipping the first two tournaments of the season.
"I wasn't prepared," she said. "'I wasn't ready golf-wise or mentally. I enjoyed being at home with my kids. I started practicing a month ago, and I'm ready now."
The 37-year-old Hall of Famer said her goal is to take it easy this season, playing the major tournaments and spending a little bit more time off the course and at the ballpark. Her husband is former major-league third baseman Ray Knight, batting coach of the Cincinnati Reds.
"Of course I'll be there to defend my title at Youngstown," Lopez said. Still the competitor.
Hall of Fame reputation
One other golfer was thrilled with the tournament format, which invites Hall of Famers in addition to the tournament winners the past two years: Kathy Whitworth, who has won 88 tournaments _ more than any golfer, male or female. "I'll probably be the high man on the totem poll," Whitworth, 54, predicted beforehand.
Close, actually. She shot the second-highest score: 10-over 82. Nancy Scranton, a Tampa resident, was alone at 11 over par.
_ LIZ ROBBINS