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Peete's story defies logic

Not all the talk on the men's golf circuit this summer has been about US and British Open champion Tom Watson. Calvin Peete has people talking, too, even if his two recent victories didn't come in the prestige tournaments that Watson's did.

Considering that Calvin didn't take up golf until he was 23, it's amazing he's on the tour at all. So one can imagine how the golfing galleries buzzed after he won the Greater Milwaukee Open in July and followed two weeks later with a victory at Williamsburg. That brought his 1982 earnings to $188,436, considerably more than the $122,481 he won in all of 1979, his previous best year on the tour.

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An eighth grade dropout and one of 19 children raised in a poor black family, Calvin finally gave golf a try at the urging of friends. He had been traveling throughout the Eastern United States selling clothing to migrant workers, but quickly saw the possibilities of forging a new career on the fairways. Watching a televised tournament, he learned that Jack Nicklaus was making ''around $200, 000 a year chasing that ball. I figured I could be happy with one-third that amount, so I decided to give it a try.''

Without any formal lessons, he joined the tour in 1976 and won his first pro tournament (the Milwaukee Open) in 1979. He hadn't captured anymore victories until the past month, but his future may brighten considerably now that his putting has improved.

Calvin has few peers from tee to green, where his name has been at or near the top of the statistics kept for driving accuracy and hitting greens in regulation the last few years.

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