SI Vault
April 07, 1958
"Face" at Boca Raton
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April 07, 1958

Events & Discoveries

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"Face" at Boca Raton

The two most interesting golfers in the world just now—we refer, of course, to Torakichi (Pete) Nakamura and Koichi Ono of Japan, who so thoroughly embarrassed Sam Snead and Jimmy Demaret last October at Tokyo's international matches—are in God's country now, getting ready for the Augusta Masters. Gallantly passing up an early chance to practice over the Augusta course, they proceeded to Boca Raton, Fla. last week for a rematch with Snead and Demaret—and lost in paired scores of 142-140 to the Americans in an 18-hole circuit of Sam Snead's wintertime home course.

The match was only a prelude to Augusta, where all four will meet again this week, but it deserves a small note in the history of American golf for one incident and one conversational exchange.

The incident occurred on the 18th green, which the players approached all even. Sam was up in fine shape on his second shot and got his par 4. Demaret was in trouble and took a 5, and Ono joined him when he missed a 3-footer. And now it was Nakamura's turn.

Trapped on his tee shot, he had recovered rather well, but then his third shot was ordinary. Going for the big one, the 132-pounder chipped and came within three feet of sinking his fourth shot. The interval decided the match in the Americans' favor.

Then the gallery saw something that usually doesn't occur on Saturday afternoons at American country clubs. Knowing that he and Ono had lost irretrievably to the famed American pros, Nakamura tapped his ball to one side of the cup, then sank it for a six. Thus, his partner, the less spectacular Ono, had scored better than he on the last decisive hole. It was Boca Raton's first lesson in "face" in golf.

Later, in the clubhouse, Pete Nakamura had a snack of rice balls and hamburger. Then he slipped over to Snead.

"Your drive is great," he said in his halting English. "Would it be possible for me to see pictures...?" Nakamura made like a camera grinding away.

"Ah reckon so," Sam Snead answered amiably, in the tones of a West Virginian who understands face, too—"if Ah can see inside that putter you got, boy."

To be continued, obviously, at Augusta.

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