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The Con Was On
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April 24, 1995
In a new novel, legends Walter Hagen and Titanic Thompson square off in a match in which everything is a little shady
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April 24, 1995

The Con Was On

In a new novel, legends Walter Hagen and Titanic Thompson square off in a match in which everything is a little shady

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Thompson eyed Haig's ball and looked over at Haig himself. "Let's double it right here," he bellowed. Haig nodded at him.

I tugged at Haig's sleeve to get his attention. "What are you guys up to now? How much is on the line?"

"Five hundred," he said matter-of-factly. Until this moment I had never seen anyone play for more than $20.

Titanic, on the other hand, was all business. He pulled up a tuft of grass, tossing it into the air to check the wind, which had picked up. It was getting stiff, and it was blowing right into his face. He squinted at the green and at the ocean beyond it. He reached for his clubs and slowly pulled a driver out of his bag. Wait a minute. It was windy, I knew, but a driver?

Haig and I watched in disbelief as Thompson laced one but good. He grunted at impact, sending his poor Spalding Dot out over the green, over Haig's ball, over everything. It landed at least 75 yards out in the water, drowning in the sea beyond the green. It was a goner if ever there was one.

"What was he doing with that shot?" I asked Haig.

"My boy, he was going 3 down."

Titanic didn't show any emotion whatsoever. He turned to Haig and said, "That's good," referring to the 10-footer that awaited Haig on the green. Hagen took 2 at the 7th, Thompson an X.

Hagen was five under after seven, and he was starting to pound his opponent into the ground like a stake. It was time, I decided, to make another attempt at diplomacy with Titanic's caddie.

"You guys are 3 down," I whispered to him. "What's Titanic going to do now?"

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