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Just a tournament? Where had Pete been, at Fergie's bachelorette party?
No, this wasn't just another tournament, and even for a British Open it had been particularly rife with strange and exotic happenings. In what other tournament, for instance, has Norman had to wrest the lead away from the commissioner of the PGA Tour?
He had to this time. Playing in the second threesome, Deane Beman, bless his Walter Mitty heart, was sole leader of the Open for about 30 minutes on Thursday morning. His 75 tied for lowest score in the clubhouse.
Even if you're not crazy about Beman's czarship (back of the line, pal), you had to lift a glass to what he did across the big pond. After putting out at the 1973 Walt Disney World Classic, Beman took a short 12-year break during which he pursued other interests. Then, six months ago, he decided to bullyrag his game back into shape. Three weeks ago he came to Scotland and, without greasing the first wheel or pulling the first string, qualified for the Open like any other Ian by shooting a very uncommishish 70-70—140 at Western Gailes in Ayrshire. Eat your heart out, Pete Rozelle.
Maybe Beman had gone a little middle-age crazy, but why not? Nicklaus, 46, was the current Masters champion. Raymond Floyd, 43, was the U.S. Open champ. Why couldn't Deane Beman, 48, be the British champ? After all, he outranks those two.
"Everyone keeps asking me, 'How's Deane going to do?' " said Nicklaus. "And I tell them, 'You watch, he's a gutty little competitor. He'll do fine. He may do better than fine.' "
Unfortunately—and proving that the Royal & Ancient has no sense of humor—the world was deprived of the three-ball group of the century.
Beman: Hey, Mac! Did you see that? Seve just took my ball and hit it into the ocean!
O'Grady: What ocean?