Tanaka and Sluman Revisit Disney

RSS

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Hidemichi Tanaka visited Disney three weeks ago, but not for business.
 
Skipped the Texas Open, came here for one week just on vacation holiday, goofed around for a whole week and got tired, he said through his interpreter.
 
Standing 55, 135 pounds with a 27-inch waist, 8 shoes, Tanaka was able to ' if not by much ' take in many of the attractions. His favorite?
 
Animal Kingdom. The one with the water, I guess, where you get sprayed on, he said.
 
The Japanese player, who shot 9-under-par 63 at the Magnolia Course Thursday to earn a share of the first-round lead, did manage to get in one round at Magnolia during his vacation, but didnt play the Palm, where he will tee off Friday.
 
Too busy riding the rides, he joked.
 
Like many of his countrymen, Tanaka is rarely seen without a smile on his face, and said as a kid he admired Tom Watson.
 
Strong and smiles, the 31-year-old said of the reasons why he followed Watsons career.
 
The 31-year-old from Hiroshima said as a kid he carried a picture of Watson around with him. In Japan they have these squares, kind of like a cardboard box. It is kind of like an autograph card, his interpreter described.
 
Tanaka never got a signature from his golfing hero, but said he did get a chance to meet him at the 1996 Kemper Open.
 

On the Space Coast No One Can See You Win
 
In 10 previous starts at the Disney Golf Classic, Jeff Sluman has never finished better than a tie for seventh. But he does have some success at the Magnolia and Palm courses ' you just have to go back 20 years to find it.
 
I won on the J.C. Goosie Space Coast Tour, biggest event he had in 1982, Sluman recanted. I won here at Disney - $15,000. I knew I was set for life. I didnt know what I was going to do with all that money.
 
The Space Coast is a 72-mile stretch of land in Florida along the Atlantic Ocean, which includes space attractions like the Astronaut Hall of Fame. The tour was a developmental one, where the likes of Sluman, Phil Blackmar, Joey Sindelar, Russ Cochran and Gary Hallberg fine-tuned their games.
 
It was a lot of pressure. It really kind of helped me get over a hurdle. I got my (PGA Tour) card later on that year.
 
Sluman shot 9-under 63 Thursday to share the opening-round lead.
 

Now or Never - or Next Year
 
David Duval missed a golden opportunity last week to increase his efforts of qualifying for the Tour Championship, which is on offer to the top 30 players on the money list.
 
Duval held the lead going into the final round of the Invensys Classic at Las Vegas, but shot 71 on Sunday to finish in a tie for sixth. As a result, he only climbed to 73rd in earnings. His finish paid out $167,500, while first-place offered $900,000.
 
Now, he has to finish at least first and third at Disney and next weeks Buick Challenge. They both offer a $666,000 first-place prize.
 
Im well aware of that, he said in his usual stone-faced manner after shooting 3-under 69 to finish the first round six off the lead.
 
If I fail to win a golf tournament either this week or next week, then I have a tournament in Japan and a one-day thing in Mexico, and other than that you wont see me until the 27th of January.
 
Duval is suffering through he worst season as a professional. He has earned only two top-10s, while going through a host of personal problems such as a break-up with his finance and injuries.
 
However, as the season is winding down, Duvals play is picking up. Aside from his Vegas performance, he also led through two rounds of the Michelob Championship. And whether or not his five-year winning streak on tour comes to an end, hes looking forward to next season.
 
Thats the exciting thing about our sport, that everybody starts at zero, we all start on January 1, he said. Scoring average things ' the Vardon (trophy), money titles, majors, theyre all up for grabs.
 
Its nice to start fresh, but its kind of hard to pay attention to that when you play three or four or five times in November and December.
 
Full-field scores from the Disney Golf Classic