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HOW CAN A PRO MISS 18-INCH PUTTS?
Frank Beard
May 18, 1970
Throughout 1969, a year in which he emerged as the leading money-winner on the golf tour, Frank Beard kept a diary. In it he wrote of the demanding, self centered life of the real touring pro—the one without jet planes, secretaries and million-dollar contracts. Here, in Part I of a series, he recounts events that climax with that most common of all athletic situations: losing
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May 18, 1970

How Can A Pro Miss 18-inch Putts?

Throughout 1969, a year in which he emerged as the leading money-winner on the golf tour, Frank Beard kept a diary. In it he wrote of the demanding, self centered life of the real touring pro—the one without jet planes, secretaries and million-dollar contracts. Here, in Part I of a series, he recounts events that climax with that most common of all athletic situations: losing

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On the 15th, a long par-5, I chipped my third shot up 18 inches from the cup, practically a tap-in. But I didn't get careless. I lined the putt up, hit the ball exactly where I was looking—and missed. The ball hit in the cup and bounced out and sat there, sticking out its tongue at me. I had to settle for a par. I was still one under for the tournament and three shots behind Devlin, and then, playing right in front of me, Bruce bogeyed the 16th.

Trevino and Charles had shot themselves out of contention, and Devlin was sharing first place, at three under, with Bruce Crampton, who'd birdied four out of his last five holes. I was two strokes behind. If I'd made that 18-inch putt, I'd have only been one stroke back.

I didn't quit. I parred 16 and birdied 17. Crampton bogeyed the 18th, so, standing in the 18th fairway after my drive, I knew I needed a birdie to tie Devlin. Just as I reached for my club, I saw Palmer's jet fly overhead. He'd finished with a 69 for 282 and tied for eighth place, which was worth close to $3,000. He wasn't even staying around to see whether I beat him out or not. It must've been my imagination, but I thought that he was kind of razzing me with his jet.

I took a three-iron and I didn't hit it too well. I came up about 30 feet short of the hole. I studied the green, then stepped up and hit the ball right on line. I thought I'd hit it hard enough, but I hadn't been able to gauge the greens all day. It stopped five feet short. Devlin had the championship, his first victory in three years.

Suddenly, before I could even feel let down, a whole bunch of thoughts started going through my mind. If I missed my next putt, I'd fall out of a tie for second place with Crampton, I'd give up about $3,500 and I wouldn't win enough money to beat Arnie out of that U.S. Open exemption. My whole week would've been wasted.

I was facing the same kind of putt I'd been missing all day. I didn't spend much time fiddling over it. I lined it up, hit it good and firm and watched it roll right into the hole. So I tied for second place, won $9,250 and, by a margin of about $1,200, beat old Arnie out of the Open exemption.

Which was fine, but I didn't win the tournament. I guess I just wasn't aggressive enough to finish first today, and I suppose I should feel disappointed. If I'd made that 18-inch putt on 15, I'd have forced Devlin into a playoff.

MAY 1, New Orleans—Old Frank Beard turned 30 today, and I went out and gave myself a 67 for a birthday present. I'm not leading the tournament—Kermit Zarley and Lee Elder shot 66s—but I'm right up there, the way an old tour veteran should be. I felt kind of ancient teeing off, because I read in the paper this morning that Jack Nicklaus said his age was catching up to him. Jack is 29.

One of the local sports editors is waging a war against George Archer. George is the defending champion in the New Orleans Open, but he's not playing this week. He sent word that he burned his hand lighting a cigarette and got a blister and can't swing a club. This sports editor said today that even if Archer really is hurt—and he doubted it—George had a moral obligation to come down here and watch the tournament because he's defending champion and the new Masters champion. I never heard anything so ridiculous in my life as expecting a man to travel 2,000 miles from his home in California just to watch a golf tournament. Some of these writers are beyond belief.

MAY 2—I had a late tee time today, but Patty saw to it that I didn't waste the morning. She had me chasing around town looking for diapers and baby milk and picking up the laundry, and then she pushed me into buying some new slacks. I got 10 pairs, and as far as I'm concerned that'll last me forever. But I know that six months from now Patty'll be yelling at me again to buy some more. I guess I do have a responsibility to look halfway decent, but it just seems like wasted cash to me.

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