"I used to
hit a long, high hook," he added, "and I thought it was smart to try
and hit a shorter iron to the green than anybody else. But now I've shortened
my backswing, so I hit straighten"
It was three
years ago at the Masters that Blancas was first talked about. The speaker was a
fellow Houston resident, Jimmy Demaret.
bragging about a handsome boy, the son of a maintenance man at Houston's
fashionable old River Oaks Country Club, who could give most amateurs two
strokes a nine and win. Said Jimmy: "I've seen a lot of young hotshots, but
this kid can really play. I'd like to back him on the tour right now." So
would a lot of other people, according to Houston Coach Williams, and they were
standing in line for the-opportunity long before Blancas shot the 55.
"The kid has
been working at golf since he was 8," says Williams. "He's a terrific
all-round player, with more good shots than any college boy I've ever seen. And
we've had some excellent ones."
Premier course's strange measurements, Blancas needed a wider assortment of his
"good" shots there than anyone might suspect. To fully appreciate his
achievement, one need only consider how he played the course. (The distances
are approximate, as different tees are used on each nine.)
The first hole
is a 325-yard drive and nine-iron that he birdied twice; the second, a 475-yard
par 5 that he played with a daring shortcut drive and eight-iron, chipping in
for an eagle and par-ring; the third, a 210-yard par 4, where he used an iron
and wedge for two birdies; the fourth, a 100-yard par 3 that he birdied twice
with a nine-iron; the fifth, a 350-yard par 4, where he drove with a long iron
and wedged for one birdie; the sixth, a 105-yard nine-iron or wedge shot that
he birdied twice; the seventh, a 310-yarder, where he used a driver and wedge
for one birdie; the eighth, a 165-yard par 3, where he hit a six-iron for one
birdie; and the ninth, a 500-yard par 5, where he used a driver, four-wood and
chip for two birdies.
Many of Texas'
finest golfers have played Premier over the past years, but Blancas' round was
five strokes better than anyone had ever scored there before. Jacky Cupit, who
grew up near by, held the previous record at 60.
As of now,
Blancas' main concerns are trying to qualify for the U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst
and getting his degree at Houston. But a pro career is undoubtedly his
Last weekend he
was asked if he patterned himself after any pro.
"My idol, I
suppose, is Ben Hogan," he said, "but I don't think anybody will accuse
me of swinging like him."