"You know, you're right," said Horton. "Let's have a tournament for them."
Displaying the perseverance of his namesake in the Dr. Seuss classic, Horton somehow cajoled the director of the renowned 74-year-old Yale course into hosting the fatfest. The proceeds help fund research for a Yale Psychiatric Institute study of—what else?—eating disorders. "It's less a tournament than a tailgate party," Horton says. "It's not really about golf. It's about food."
Horton provides lots of it: Besides a buffet lunch and dinner, each golfer gets a gift bag that includes Oreos, Slim Jims and a pack of Alka-Seltzer. Barbecued franks and burgers await players at the 3rd hole, where hitting closest to the buffet table (about a 265-yard drive) gets you a microwave oven. (In the event of a tie, the ball closest to the mayonnaise wins; last year, Rydzy claimed the prize after his ball landed in a hot dog roll.)
Alas, not one of the golfers was female. Horton hopes to have a women's division, but in three years he hasn't had a single applicant. "Women get a little nutty about their weight," he says. "When guys get big and fat and sloppy, they don't care."
Laugeni is living proof of that. He was almost misty-eyed as he recalled the Zen-like state of bliss he reached in college, when one night, he says, he became "at one" with 12 lobsters, 72 jumbo shrimp, 14 eight-ounce steaks, three slices of prime rib ("not slabs—you know, thin"), a pineapple and three bottles of wine. "My roommate watched me in awe," Laugeni says. "Then he went into the bathroom and threw up."
Not surprisingly, Laugeni and Hardy were each assigned his own cart for the tournament. "This course is very hilly, and if those two were in the same vehicle, I'd be a little nervous about the brakes," said Horton. "Remember what happened to John Candy in Stripes: During basic training he started running and couldn't stop until he reached the next state."
A light rain is falling as Hardy looms over his ball on the 1st tee. He hits his drive a little chunky; the low liner makes straight for a flock of Canadas wading in Griest Pond. "The geese are running!" shouts Marcucio.
"They ought to be," Rydzy says. "John looks like he's hungry."
Rydzy's opening drive bends over a corner of the water hazard before breaching the fairway, and his approach bounds across the wildly undulating green, stopping five feet from the cup. When Laugeni sinks the putt for a birdie, he and Hardy celebrate by banging bellies like Fantasia hippos. The force of the collision causes office buildings to sway in Bridgeport, 20 miles away.
As the portly procession plods uphill to the next tee box, a fellow fatty drives by. "If you see a Maxfli in the rough," he says, "pick it up for me, will you?"