Coleman part of talented minority presence in golf

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

If you're looking for the hot hand at the Grant Fuhr Celebrity Classic, look no further than Vince Coleman.

The former St. Louis Cardinals speedster is coming off a victory in last weekend's Celebrity Players Tour stop in Hartford.

He and host Ahmad Rashad teamed up to shoot 131 (64 in a two-man scramble the first day, 67 in best ball on Sunday) to win by a stroke.

"We were saying we were the Jackie Robinsons of golf, we broke the colour barrier," Coleman said yesterday, during the first of two pro-ams in advance of the 36-hole tournament that begins tomorrow at Blackhawk.

"Ahmad played very well, he had three birdies on the front, I had four birdies total, including 14, 15 and 16 on the back stretch, it was exciting."

THE COLOUR BARRIER

While they didn't break the colour barrier - just two stops earlier, at the Toyota Celebrity Classic in San Diego, Grant Fuhr shot 67-70 to win by four strokes - they are examples of an ever-increasing minority presence in golf.

Coleman, like Fuhr, started playing long before Tiger Woods came along, but he is amazed at the changes since Woods joined the PGA.

"You never knew where it would go," he said. "You wondered if it was going to be a fad, like tennis used to be, or when everybody was playing racquetball. You didn't know if it was going to stick or not, but it did. Tiger came and elevated the game."

Coleman, a 10-handicap while he was stealing bases in the major leagues, saw the attraction long before golf was hip.

"I started playing seriously in about '97 or '98 when I retired. Before that I played off and on, but was never really serious about it. You don't have time to work on the mechanics and fundamentals when you're playing baseball."

A QUICK GRASP

But, like hockey players, baseball players seem to grasp the game fast.

"You understand the hand-eye co-ordination to hit the ball," said Coleman. "But the one thing you have to realize is that golf is the opposite of other sports. You can't be aggressive. You have to slow down a little bit and the results will come.

"I've been under par in a few tournaments, but I wouldn't say I'm scratch because that's something you have to do every time out. Any given Sunday I'm capable of shooting even par or one or two over. If I can do that I'm happy."


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