A regular feature in the Sparrows Point Country Club bulletin is called the "Tina Watch." This year the column is bursting with news like never before.
Tina Barrett, the club's touring pro, is coming on strong. In her third year on the tour, the 25-year-old graduate of Perry Hall High ranks 32nd on the LPGA money list with $73,955. Her best finish was a fourth in the Inamori Classic in San Diego in March.
"It's nice to pick up the newspaper and look at the money list from the top down rather than from the bottom up," said Tina's mother, Norma Barrett.
In support of Barrett, Don Ament has arranged for a charter bus to transport Sparrows Point CC members to Bethesda Country Club Friday to watch her in the $1 million Mazda LPGA Championship.
Ament and his wife Beverley, Stu and Marge Shinnick and Gordon and Marlene Kirsch are Tina's support group. They are old golfing friends of Norma and her late husband, Bill, who died 11 years ago.
The last time Bill Barrett played golf, on the Shen-Va-Lee course in New Market, Va., Ament was with him. Norma and her friends go to about a dozen tournaments a year, as far away as California, to watch Tina.
"Tina's like a second kid to us," said Ament, who has three of his own. "She's part of an extended family. We enjoy the success she's had, and it's a chance for us to go places we wouldn't otherwise go. I play golf almost every day myself, except when we go to see Tina."
In her rookie year of 1989, Barrett was No. 69 on the money list with $39,776, but dropped to No. 121 and a pittance of $17,867 last year. A number of factors have worked in her favor this year, not the least of which is the fact she at last has sponsors -- Dennis Corbo and Angelo Guzzi, both Scranton, Pa., businessmen.
"They're golf fans who wanted to get involved," Barrett said when she popped into town the other week enroute to a tournament in Hershey, Pa.
Corbo and Guzzi pay her expenses. Once they have recovered their expenses from her earnings, they receive a percentage of the subsequent winnings.
"Having sponsors has taken the pressure off," Barrett said. "As the season went along last year and my debts accumulated, the more I pressed and the worse my swing got. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. I pushed too hard."
Barrett also credits a new teacher, ex-tour player De De Owens, with her improved play. She stopped in Chicago to see Owens for a lesson on her short game before the Hershey event.
"I've finally taken the pressure off myself," Barrett said. "I realized I didn't need a perfect swing to score. I'm hitting more greens and I have confidence in my new teacher. Having sponsors helps.
"It dawned on me that it's all right for some of my goals to be a few years away. Actually, I'm in a position now that a lot of people would like to be in. I stopped beating myself up. I'm trying to be a little nicer to myself.
"A lot of this stems from hitting the ball better. I'm concentrating on trying to hit good shots instead of trying not to hit bad ones. When you're in that mode, you don't do well. It starts with the physical, and then becomes mental."
In her rookie season, Barrett once played a stretch of eight straight tournaments. She said then that was about three too many. She feels now that even five is too many, especially for players like Patty Sheehan and Beth Daniel, who usually are in contention.
"Three or four is the maximum if you're in contention," Barrett said. "I can see how Beth and Patty get burnout. There are so many other demands on their time. I've been there a few times, and it's very exhausting."
Barrett occasionally takes a break to spend time with her boyfriend and former caddie, Dan Friedman, a Lehigh graduate who operates a rental golf shop in New Jersey. He will doubtless be in her rooting section at Bethesda.
"This is a big tournament," Barrett said. "I played pretty well there as an amateur. I'll go there with the idea of not letting anything bother me."
Although Barrett is trying to be nicer to herself, she reasons it can't be harmful to reach into the future and bring one goal a
"I'd like to win one this year," she said.
The LPGA Championship would suffice nicely.