SI Vault
John Garrity
February 12, 1990
Gale-force winds made the AT&T a rite of passage for young pros who aim to be stars of the 1990s
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February 12, 1990

Sea Of New Faces

Gale-force winds made the AT&T a rite of passage for young pros who aim to be stars of the 1990s

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This year the pin on 8 was farther right, and Schulz hit the green safely. Turning to his wife, Diane, who was behind the gallery ropes, he laughed and said, "You feel better now?"

She did, but only until he walked up the hill and three-putted for bogey.

Armour didn't have to strain to recall his worst moment in four AT&Ts. "I made a 9 on the 18th at Pebble Beach the first time I played here," he said. "Put a couple of balls in the water. That didn't feel very good."

Tennyson joined the club Saturday afternoon when he had the bad luck to be on the 17th at Cypress when those heavy winds blew up, bending the flagstaff almost double. "We were so exposed it was unbelievable," he said later at Disaster Central. "I've played in wind, but not in wind like this."

Fighting for his balance on the 17th tee, Tennyson reached the fairway with his driver, but his attempt to reach the green with the same club met with a crosswind that sent his ball plunging into the sea. Dropping another ball at the base of the cliff, 104 yards from the pin, Tennyson hit a six-iron that also came up short and disappeared into the Pacific. His next shot, a five-iron, went over the back edge of the green. From there he chipped on, only to watch his ball roll all the way across the green and off the front edge. He chipped again to four feet and made the putt for 9—thereby narrowly losing the hole to his pro-am partner, Nestle chairman James Biggar, who had an 8.

Is this sort of self-flagellation good for a player's development? Tennyson, who tied for second at the Bob Hope and for fifth at Phoenix before his epic failure at the Battle of Cypress Point, seemed to think so: "I have heard about guys losing their swings here because they have to overcompen-sate for the wind. But to me, that's part of the game. I think playing here can improve your game—especially mentally."

Besides, golfers on the brink of stardom have to sharpen their images as well as their swings. In that regard, Armour, whose golf bag sports a big III on the side, made the most progress at Pebble Beach. With his evocative name, his ruddy good looks and his Bogartian way of flicking aside his cigarette before a shot, Armour is destined to be a crowd favorite if he can win a few. He already signs the best autograph on tour—a grand flourish copied, no doubt, from the clubs that have borne his famous grandfather's name for more than 50 years.

Armour I, who won the U.S. and British Opens and the PGA between 1927 and '31, wound up his career as a respected teacher and author in Florida. Armour III began his in Las Vegas, where his family lived in a house just off the third green at the Desert Inn. After playing college golf at the University of New Mexico, he had modest success on the European and Asian tours—"It was more like camping than exile," he says—but it took him five years to regain the tour card he lost in '82 for failing to play well enough. Before his five-shot victory at Phoenix, his best U.S. results were a second-place finish in the '88 Centel Classic and a tie for second at the '89 Kemper Open. "Winning feels strange," he said. "What should I expect of myself now?"

Tennyson played his college golf at Ball State and, like Armour and Schulz, took his turn on the Asian tour, where he won a couple of tournaments. He's loose and chatty on the course, and he credits his recent good play to a change in attitude. "I used to be real serious, out there grinding every day," he says. "A real Ben Hogan type. I'd block everything and everyone out, and by the 13th hole I'd be worn out." Tennyson studied the players who were emerging several years ago—Ken Green, Mark Calcavecchia, Steve Jones—and decided they played more or less with reckless abandon. "They'd wail on it and see what happened. Now I try to be more outgoing between shots—look at the trees, talk to someone about the Super Bowl, take my mind off the game for a few minutes. Then I find I have more energy to put into my game."

Tennyson's new attitude was tested at Cypress, right after he made his 9. Larry Mize, playing in Tennyson's foursome, hit a drive on the 18th hole that blew into the trees on the left of the fairway. Thinking his ball was lodged in a tree, the usually reserved Mize climbed up and shimmied along a main branch, looking for the ball. He found one—but it wasn't his! Just then, the wind started whipping again and the tree began to sway. Mize stopped, hung on and yelled, "What do I do now?"

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