FEBRUARY 17, 1969
This could be the worst case of slow play in the history of golf: In 1969 young PGA Tour pro Bob Lunn was billed in SI as a "threat to the establishment," a big player (6'1", 210 pounds) with an even bigger game who was ready to challenge Nicklaus, Palmer and Casper for golf superiority. Thirty-three years later he's still trying to rise to the challenge. A 57-year-old assistant pro at Woodbridge ( Calif.) Golf and Country Club, the one-time hotshot, who won six Tour events but failed to menace golf's elite, is making one last run at glory, this time on the Senior tour. "I feel I can win again," Lunn says. "Even though it's been a long time, I still remember what it feels like to win, and I'd like to feel that again."
Lunn turned pro in 1965, a year after graduating from Abraham Lincoln High in San Francisco (the school that also produced Ken Venturi and Johnny Miller). He earned his Tour card in '66 and two years later used his fearlessness plus length and accuracy off the tee to win two tournaments. Lunn added one Tour victory in '69 and another in '70. At the season-opening Los Angeles Open in '71, Lunn, weighing 240 pounds, defeated fellow heavyweight Casper in a playoff. One newspaper headline, Lunn recalls, referred to the shootout as the BATTLE OF THE BULGE, and that convinced him to go on a diet. Over the next three months he lost 70 pounds—and his swing. "I lost too much weight too fast," says Lunn, who weighs 205 now.
A freak injury four years later knocked him off the Tour. While hitting a tee shot in the Memphis Classic, Lunn felt something snap in his left wrist and was unable to swing a golf club. He didn't play for the rest of the year as doctors attempted to diagnose the injury. Lunn says they never did. A year later the pain mysteriously went away, but his game didn't come back, and he left the Tour for good in 1990 with career earnings of $275,902.
Lunn has worked off and on for 22 years at Woodbridge, giving lessons, running the pro shop and performing other duties at the 600-member club. In his free time he works on his own game. Lunn's best finish in 56 Senior tour events is 34th, in 1995, but he hasn't entered more than five Senior tournaments in a year since '99. He's scheduled to make his first Senior appearance this year in next month's Novell Utah Shootout.
The golfing establishment is still waiting to hear from him. "Why should I stop playing competitively?" Lunn asks. "Many people retire to play golf, but I'm in it already. I'm not done with that part of my career yet."