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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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"Be my guest," said Titanic, turning to Haig and motioning to the tee. "Let 'er fly, champ."

Hagen got right to it. He strode confidently to the hitting area and put his peg into the ground. He waggled and got set. He was hunched over a bit and deadly serious; the look on his face told anyone curious enough to notice that he was going to tear into the ball.

Then he backed away. Was he too nervous to hit?

He walked over to one of the women in the gallery, a real looker. "My darling," he said, admiring her flowing auburn hair, "you look like a woman of inestimable taste. Where can I buy some fine champagne around here?"

She blushed and turned to the man whose arm she had been holding a moment before. He was not amused. She looked at Hagen, at his jet-black hair, his weathered but handsome face, and was smitten. "Why," she said softly, "Mr. Hagen, I believe you can purchase something right over there. I'm certain they can satisfy... ah...your every need."

"Thank you for that advice, my dear. I won't forget it." Haig winked. The man now had to hold her up, her body having fallen limp. She had fainted dead away.

Back at the tee Haig wasted no time. A fast lurching swing got his shot airborne. It hooked far to the left, barely staying inbounds.

Thompson's swing, in contrast to Haig's, was as smooth as glass. He pumped one out there 235 yards from the tee. He was in perfect position to come into the green.

Both men moved quickly down the fairway. Haig got down to business before Titanic did. He was playing as if he were rushing to get to the bank before closing time, but his hurry-up tempo did not inhibit his ability. He took a mid-iron and punched it low, hooking it around the trees that stood between him and the green. His ball, a Wilson Sure-Flite, bounced over a bunker, coming to rest three feet from the hole.

Titanic played an iron that finished well short of the hole. He was 23 feet away, so he putted first. When his ball lipped out, I figured this was going to be a long day. I mean, he almost made birdie right out of the box against one of the greatest players ever. Hagen knocked in his short putt for birdie. One up.

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