It looked as if the birdie barrage would end when Dillard's third shot to the 6th stopped 25 feet from the flag, but his putt hit square in the middle of the cup and dropped. "Good thing," says Dillard. "That ball was zinging."
Coming off the green, Estes said, "That must be some kind of record." He was right. No one before or since has started a U.S. Open with six consecutive birdies. George Burns had made six straight in the 1982 Open at Pebble Beach, but not on the first six holes.
The string ended on the tiny par-3 7th. Dillard hit a pitching wedge to 15 feet but made, in his words, "a really bad putt." He finished the front nine in 30, then came home in 38. His 68 put him in a three-way tie for third with Phil Mickelson and Steve Pate, a stroke behind two-time Open champ Curtis Strange and two behind his Edmond pal Gil Morgan.
By the start of the second round the weather had turned cold and dank. Dillard, teeing off after 2 p.m., started shakily, but on the 6th hole he reached the green in two and holed a long putt for eagle. When he got to 18, it was nearly dark, but fans were still in the bleachers, many of them chanting, "Go, Bubba, go." Dillard rammed home a 10-footer for birdie and a 70.
Dillard's 138 for 36 holes put him in second place, three strokes behind Morgan. His mind ever on money, he told the press, "I figure the least I can make now is $5,000. I don't mean to be disrespectful to the USGA, but if I ever won this championship, the first thing I'd think about is the money. It would take a while for the honor to sink in."
Alas, it is time to bring the tale of Andy Dillard's '92 Open to a merciful end. Paired in the final group on Saturday with Morgan, he shot 79 to Morgan's 77 and afterward apologized to Morgan for his bad play. "I played lousy," he says today. "I had never been in the last group. I was used to being on the practice putting green with a bunch of guys, shooting the breeze, but on that Saturday at Pebble there were just the two of us, Gil and me, all alone."
On Sunday he added a 77. "That was a good round under the conditions," he says. He tied for 17th and earned $18,069, more than he could have hoped for when he arrived. "One stroke better," Dillard says today, "and I'm in the Masters. How I would have loved that."
In the years between the last Open at Pebble Beach and the one coming up next week, these things have happened to Andy Dillard: In 1996 his mother died of cancer. A year later he married Sullivan, and in '98 she gave birth to their daughter, Brittni Taylor. Tammy is a computer programmer at Tinker Air Force Base outside Oklahoma City.
Almost every year since '92 Dillard has returned to Q school, trying to regain his Tour card. No luck. He contents himself with the Lone Star tour in Texas. "I could make more money on other mini-tours," he says, "but they would take me too far from home."
Dillard thinks about '92 and Pebble Beach every day. "It still haunts me," he says, "but to be honest, winning the tournament never occurred to me at the time. I wasn't savvy enough. Put me in the same spot today, and I know I could do it."