Although is hectic schedule would indicate otherwise, Lee Elder is very relaxed these days.
"It's been an easy day," Elder assessed yesterday, while sipping a lass of red wine in his plush K Street office, the home of Lee Elder Enterprises. "It could have been more hectic - the Today Show wanted me to fly to New York."
Not leaving town (the show was taped in his office) was about the only chore that Elder avoided following his second victory this season on the Professional Golfers" Association tour. Elder picked up a $60,000 check Sunday for his one-stroke triumph in the Westchester Classic, earlier in the season, he won the Milwaukee Open.
"That was one of the most enjoyable highlights of my career," Elder said of Sunday's victory. "It meant a number of things: it exempted me from qualifying for the British Open; it probably guaranteed that I would get a slot on the Ryder Cup team; it qualified me for the World Series of Golf."
Winning the Milwaukee Open had already qualified Elder for his third Masters.
Elder added that the Westchester victory carried him beyond his goal of winning $100,000 this season (he now has won $146,348, 10th on the tour list.) "Now that I've surpassed that, I guess I'll try for $200,000."
With the added earnings, Elder most likely will avoid the plight he found himself in after winning at Westchester. Following the posttournament news conference. Elder discovered he did not have enough money to get home. He had to ask a tournament official to cash a check.
"There were more than 100 people at my house when I arrived," said Elder. "They had already started partying. My caddy stopped through on his way south and stayed until 5:30 a.m."
Things were not much calmer when he arrived at his office. Telegrams from former President Gerald Ford and Del. Walter E. Fauntroy (D.D.C.) and phone messages from Sammy Davis Jr. and actor Greg Morris were among the backlog of correspondence piled up.
Elder told Morris on the phone, "That was the greatest shot of my career. If I never hit another, that has tobe it."
Elder was referring to his third shot on the final hole at Westchester, which he hit from 60 feet out in the rough to land 18 inches from the cup. It set up his winning birdie putt, climaxing his final round of 67.
"I had to chip from the rough left of the hole over a double tier of ground," he said. "Plus, the ball had a tendency to run fast on that green.
"The putts were denied me all day," Elder added. "Otherwise, they (other leaders) wouldn't have gotten close.
"I'd like to improve my putting, to be more consistent. It just comes and goes. I want to be able to hit 29-32 putts in every round I play."
Elder credits his drives and iron shots for his recent successes. At Westchester, he missed only six of 72 greens in regulation.
Elder credits Lee Trevino, whom he beat on the eighth extra hole for the Milwaukee title, with helping him improve the accuracy of his drives. "He told me I was standing too square to the intended line of flight," explained Elder. "He opened my left foot away from the line. That enabled me to get my hands higher at the top of the shot."
Elder's improved play this year, especially in the last five weeks when he won the two tour events, has kept the phone lines busy with endorsement offers.
"It's good to know they're coming in," said Elder. "I know I'll be getting more offers in the next two to three weeks. I'm trying to establish a substantial income after my playing days are over."
Not that his fiscal foresight indicates the 44-year-old golfer is ocnsidering putting away the clubs. In contrast, Elder expects to play "as long as I maintain good health and can be competitive."
"I look at some of the older guys still winning, like Nicklaus. They keep themselves in good physical condition."
Elder keeps in condition playing in tournaments and many exhibitions. "At Exhibitions, I'm there to entertain so I can practice new shots, relax, experiment a little."
A heavy smoker, Elder admits, "I know it is the worse thing a person can do. But I like to. I'm not going to change since other things have been going so good."
His only physical complaint involves "Old Man Arthur," Elder's nickname for the arthritis in his left thumb. "That's not from golf, it's from aging."
Having derived increased confidence from his play this season, Elder stops just short of predictiong victory in his next tournament, the B.C. Open beginning Aug. 31."I finished second there last year. I'll be trying to win it a little harder this time." CAPTION: Picture, Lee Elder relaxes in office, $60,000 richer., By Richard Darcey - The Washington Post