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CLEARWATER REBOUNDS; NORMAN TO CHALLENGE GRETZKY, BIRD, LENDL

It's been a rough couple of years for Orem's Keith Clearwater since he won $320,000 and rookie of the year honors in 1987.

He got back in the limelight last week with a $74,666 consolation prize at the Atlanta Classic after leading through three rounds and much of the fourth. It was his best finish since winning the 1987 Centel Classic in his rookie season and may be enough to earn him his PGA card back for next year.The elements almost gave him another victory. Had the rain caused cancellation of the final round, Clearwater would have been the champion by virtue of his 2-shot lead after 54 holes.

But Clearwater said he would rather have played and lost than won that way, which is how Greg Norman ended up winner of the Memorial Classic just two weeks earlier after a final-round washout.

"I'd rather finish second and finish the round than have it given to you," said Clearwater. "If it's given to you, people don't really respect that."

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NORMAN CHALLENGED: Wayne Gretzky, Ivan Lendl and Larry Bird, three athletes at the top of their respective sports, will take on Greg Norman, considered by many to be the best golfer in the world today, in the Norman Challenge July 14 and 15, one of those made-for-TV events.

The Norman Challenge will be played at the Champions Golf and Country Club in Rogers, Ark., and will feature a scramble format. Which is this: Gretzky, Lendl and Bird will each hit a tee shot, then choose the best shot and all three hit their next shot from that spot. The same format is continued until the hole is completed.

Norman, of course, plays his own ball.

The team scramble score will be matched against Norman's score and an 18-hole stroke total will determine the winner. CBS-TV is televising the event.

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PINGSTON TRIO: You probably haven't heard of the new musical group called Jake Trout and the Flounders. Peter Jacobsen is lead singer. Mark Lye plays guitar. Payne Stewart plays the harmonica and sings backup.

Aren't those guys on the PGA Tour? Yup. It's golf's Pingston Trio.

One of the group's offerings is "Hittin' on the Back of the Range," sung to the tune of Otis Redding's "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay."

Jacobsen and Lye composed it during the 1988 U.S. Open playoff between Curtis Strange and Nick Faldo.

"I was glad Strange won," Jacobsen said, "because Faldo didn't rhyme that well with range."

Among the others of the eight songs on the album: "Grinders on the Tour" sung to Jim Morrison's "Riders on the Storm."

The three pros formed the group to keep busy at night and entertain at pro-ams. Last year, as a kind of lark, they decided to do an album to help junior golf.

"We spent $50,000 doing it and just about broke even," Jacobsen said. "Let's put it this way - we never hit the charts with a bullet."

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TOUR SKED: The 1991 PGA Tour schedule is out with a few minor changes involving date changes from the 1990 schedule.

The schedule includes 44 official money events and 50 overall tournaments beginning with the Tournament of Champions at Carlsbad, Calif., on Jan. 3-6.

The official money season will end with the yet-to-be-named Tour Championship on Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at an undetermined site, an event that replaces the Nabisco Championships on the schedule.

The West Coast swing will be more geographically convenient than this year with four straight weeks in California from the Pebble Beach tourney Jan. 31-Feb. 3 followed by stops in Palm Springs, San Diego and Los Angeles.

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STRAY SHOTS: Mike Reid and his wife Randolyn are celebrating the birth of their fourth child May 25. The baby girl, named Clarissa, weighed 7 lbs 2 oz . . . The fourth annual Serenity Scramble golf tournament will be played June 10 at Stansbury Park. The Highland Ridge Aftercare is sponsoring the event with all proceeds going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah. Celebrity guests include Gene Fullmer, Stephanee Grosscup, Ron McBride and Missy Marlowe. Call Highland Ridge Hospital at 272-9851 for more information . . . Mike Bicker, head professional at West Bountiful G.C., reports entries are open for the West One Bank West Bountiful Amateur. The tournament is set for June 17, not the 19th as the UGA schedule shows. Call 295-1019 for more information . . . Figure this one out. The national wire services had daily coverage of the NAIA golf tournament out of Angola, Indiana, but not a word on the much-more prestigious NCAA Tournament in Florida .