DIVINE IN CONTENTION
The top-10 moments in pro golf that turned supernatural
The top-10 moments in pro golf that turned supernatural. By Guy Yocom
HE LAST THING A PRO WOULD SEEM TO NEED IS A MIRACLE.
They are blessed with so much already – action-figure physiques, swings issued straight from heaven, and as video replays show daily, a surfeit of good bounces. In truth, the astounding things that have happened to them over the years are for our benefit as much as theirs. They instill a sense of wonder, add to the lore, and suggest we might be on the receiving end next. What qualifies as a miracle, anyway? The criteria is rubbery, but it begins with an event that indisputably is a one-off, something that could never happen again. Four players making aces on the same hole on the same day at a US Open, as happened in 1989? Not quite; the cup was cut where balls funnelled, making it more fluke. But Arnold Palmer’s aces on the same hole on consecutive days? What a combination of a place, person and time. When Fred Couples’ball hung on the bank at the 1992 Masters,it was as though providence was tapping Freddie (and millions of fans) on the shoulder and whispering, I’m here. Herewith, the top-10 miraculous events that have happened to those who play for pay.
BOBBY JONES WALKS ON WATER 1930
During the second round of the 1930 US Open at Interlachen Country Club outside Minneapolis, Bobby Jones attempted to reach the par-5 ninth hole in two. Just as he began his downswing, Jones saw out of the corner of his eye two young girls sprinting into the fairway. Jones flinched, and his ball, badly hit, seemed destined to go only halfway across a lake in front of him.The ball, however, struck a lily pad and bounded forward, free of the water and only 30 metres short of the green. This dose of Jones magic – and the fairly routine birdie that resulted – was consequential. He won that US Open, his fourth, by two strokes over Macdonald Smith.
BOBBY CRUICKSHANK’S COMEBACK 1932
In a 36-hole, first-round match at the 1932 PGA Championship, Al Watrous, a successful tour player and later head pro at Oakland Hills, led Bobby Cruickshank, 9 up, with 13 to play.Watrous, feeling sorry for Cruickshank, conceded a six-foot putt for a half on the sixth hole. Big mistake. Cruicky, mainly through spectacular putting, which included a 70-footer on the 15th hole, came back and tied the match in regulation, then won on the fifth extra hole.“I played well,”Watrous later recounted.“My advice to you is, don’t ever concede your opponent a putt – not even a two-incher!”
HOMERO BLANCAS’ 55 1962
Now 79, Homero Blancas was an excellent PGA Tour pro who excelled as a senior. But as a young amateur, Blancas produced what is perhaps the most phenomenal round in golf history. In 1962, at a Texas barbeque-circuit event known as the Premier Invitational, Blancas shot 55, an incredible 15 under par.The par70 course was just 4 600 metres and consisted of a single nine holes using two sets of tees. Still, he made 13 birdies and an eagle. Detracting from the miracle not at all was the fact he missed a three-footer.The score to this day has never been bettered, though in 2012 an Australian pro, Rhein Gibson, equalled it in a non-competitive setting.
ILLUSTRATION BY NICOLAS ORTEGA