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July 31, 1979 - Image 11

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-07-31

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The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, July 31, 1979-Page 11
Littler: Putting key to taming Oakland Hills

BIRMINGHAM (AP) - Gene Littler,
again on the grounds that served as the
site of his greatest triumph, was
stroking drivers with effortless ease on
the practice range at the historic
Oakland Hills Country Club course.
"Sometimes I think I'm playing pret-
ty good. Then sometimes I don't think I
can play a lick," the vastly respected,
soft-spoken veteran said yesterday.
"Um huh," said Miller Barber, stan-
ding next to him, watching Littler's
shots arching with rifle accuracy down
the range. "Wouldn't you just love to
have his problems? Wouldn't you just
love to have the 'can't plays' like that?"

AT 49, after more than a quarter-cen-
tury on the pro golf tour, Littler's
graceful, picture-perfect swing still is a
marvel, a thing of envy, to his fellow
pros. And, coming into the 61st PGA
National Championship, the rest of his
game - that deft, delicate, so-
important touch around the greens - is
starting to jell, too. The tournament
starts Thursday.
"I've been putting just awful the last
couple of years," gentleman Gene said
in a drawl that would be more ap-
propriate to West Texas than his native
Southern California.
"Blut it's starting to come around.
"And you have to be able to putt to do

anything out here. If you can't putt,
you're dead. You have no chance. No
chance at all."
It was on this famed course, a 7,014-
yard, par 70 layout that Ben Hogan
dubbed "the Monster" that Littler
scored the highlight of his career, a vic-
tory in the 1961 U.S. Open.
"THAT WAS the biggest thing I've
done," he said. "I know it in retrospect
and I knew it at the time.
"All I really remember is the first
two holes and the last three. I missed
birdie putts like this" - he spread his
hands about two feet apart - "on the
first two holes and I thought, 'Oh, this is
gonna be a fun week,' and on the last
three holes - I was playing with Gar-
dner Dickinson - Joe Dey came out
and told me, not Gardner, that we'd
have to play faster."

Littler went on to score the only
major triumph of his career. He's lost
two others, the 1970 Masters and 1977
PGA, in playoffs.
"THAT'S THE best I've ever done,"
he said, but quickly added, "and the
next-best was winning at St. Louis."
That was one of the most dramatic
victories the game has known. Littler
had been stricken with cancer. He un-
derwent surgery and suffered extensive
muscle damage. He had to use his right
hand to lift his left. There seemed little
chance he'd ever play again.
But he came back to play, to play well
enough to rejoin the tour. And in 1973 he
played well enough to win the St. Louis
"For a guy that didn't think he'd ever
play again, that was really something,"
Littler said. "I got pretty lucky."

Major League Standings
Yesterday's games not included

W L Pct.
Baltimore .... 69 34 .670
Boston ....... 62 37 .626
Milwaukee ... 63 41 .606
New York .... 55 48 .534
Detroit ....... 52 49 .515
Cleveland .... 50 52 .490
Toronto ...... 32 72 .308
California .... 60 45 .571
'Minnesota .... 54 47 .535
Texas ........ 54 48 .529
Kansas City .. 50 32 .490
Chicago ...... 46 57 .447
Seattle ....... 44 62 .415
Oakland ...... 29 76 .276

6 /

W L Pct.
Montreal ..... 55 42 .567
Pittsburgh ... 56 44 .560
Chicago ...... 54 44 .551
St. Louis ..... 50 47 .515
Philadelphia . 52 49 .515
New York .... 42 55 .433


Houston ......
Cincinnati ....
San Francisco
San Diego ...
Los Angeles ..
Atlanta .......

60 46
57 50
51 54
48 59
44 60
43 62


New Laker coach
counting on 'Magic'

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) - Jack
McKinney formally was introduced as
the new head coach of the Los Angeles
Lakers yesterday, and immediately
talked about National Basketball
AP Photo Association titles.
Record breaking Bulldog "Eventually, we intend to win an
. . 2" NBA championship," said the 44-year- "
The University of Georgia's Mel Lattany zips through the tape yesterday old McKinney, who will succeed Jerry
as the South's men's 400-meter relay team finishes with a winning time of West at the helm of the Lakers. "I hope 1
38.30-best in the world this year-during competition at the National Sports it's this year, but if not, then 1981." i
Festival in Colorado Springs. MCKINNEY made it clear that he is
Yanks deal agile Rivers
By The Associated Presslokrrodut1miuebfreaetm.'
NEW YORK - Mickey Rivers, the moody, often brilliant locker room just 10 minutes before game time.
catalyst on the New York Yankees' world championship 'Horseman' dead-
teams the past two years, yesterday was traded by the CLEVELAND - Don Miller, 77, one of the legendary
Yankees to the Texas Rangers. In return for the 30-year cen- "Four Horsemen" of Notre Dame, died Saturday at Lakeside
ter fielder, the Yankees will receive three minor league Hospital, two weeks after being admitted for a heart attack.
players and a player to be named later. Miller played in the Notre Dame cbackfield from 1922-
Rivers, the speedster acquired by the Yanks in a deal 1924, and carried 283 times for 1,393 yards for a rushing
with California before the 1976 season, hs been considered by average of 6.83 yards a carry, a school record that still stan-
many the most important offensive force on the club. In his ds.
three full seasons in New York, the Yankees won three Writer Grantland Rice labeled halfbacks Miller and Jim
American League pennants and the last two World Series. Crowley, quarterback Harry Stuhldreher and fullback Elmer
This season, Rivers has been slowed down by nagging leg Layden, who played under Coach Knute Rockne, the "Four
injuries. He has appeared in 73 of the Yanks' 103 games, bat- Horsemen."
ting .289 with three homers and 25 runs batted in. "Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four
Rivers has had a continuing series of disciplinary Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as
problems with the Yankees. His, most recent run-in was Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death," Rice wrote af-
before Sunday's.game in M1lWaukee, whenhe reported to the ter eNotre Dane victory over Army in 1924,

counting heavily on rookie Earvin
"Magic" Johnson to help the Lakers to
a title.
"The Lakers have a new owner
(Jerry Buss), a new coach and a new
magic show," said McKinney shortly
after being introduced. Later, when
discussing championship hopes, he
said, "I don't want to put any extra
pressure on a 19-year-old ball-handling
The pressure on Johrnson, the first
player taken in last month's NBA draft,
clearly will be there. But McKinney, for
one, emphasized his belief that the
Michigan State All-American is
prepared for it.
McKinney served as an assistant
coach for the Portland Trail Blazers the
past three seasons and with the
Milwaukee Bucks the two previous

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