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Let's welcome a real live new star to professional golf, gang—even though he dresses in the lime greens and canary yellows of a Hawaiian tourist, wears the plantation hat of an old South Seas movie hero and seems to take particular delight in beating Arnold Palmer. Let's greet Tommy Shaw, who has now won two of the five PGA tournaments of 1971, even though his contemporaries swear he can't play that well and charge that he fibs about his age because, as one said, "He wants to be known as the bright young blond thing on the tour."
Well, whether Tom Shaw can play the way some people want him to didn't matter much again last week in Honolulu, where all he did was add the luxuriant Hawaiian Open championship to the Bing Crosby National Pro-Amateur he had won three weeks earlier. The evidence is growing that if you put Shaw in any exotic place on the face of the Earth, he will putt his way to the nearest bag of prize money, laughing all the while. Truly he has labeled himself as the kind of fresh personality the tour could surely use.
When it was all over Sunday, out there in the Pacific where the trade winds blow and the mai tais pour, Shaw already had made so much money in the new season that he could afford to go about doing that other thing he does so well, which is miss the cut. That's the deal with Shaw apparently: he wins big and then disappears to spend it. Tommy first turned up a winner in 1969 at Doral; in the weeks that followed his tour mates began to holler "Freak!" as Shaw proceeded to miss the cut at most of his next tournaments before winning again at the Avco Classic. Whereupon the pros hollered "Freak!" again—prompted perhaps by the fact that in both wins he had gotten so far ahead that he could afford fat 40s on the last nine holes. Last year he never finished better than fifth and managed to attract attention only because he was among the first players to let his hair grow, and because he began affecting the dizzily colored trousers that have become his trademark.
But this is a new year for Shaw, and when he hung in grimly to stave off Arnold Palmer at the Crosby in January, the pros had a reason to say, well, maybe Tommy has learned to play after all. Alas, he promptly did that old thing again—missing the cut at Phoenix and San Diego. Everyone should have known he was ready to win in Hawaii.
"I can't explain any of it," Shaw smiled. "I seem to get a feeling that I'm going to win, and I win. I do have a lot of confidence in my putting and I just get jazzed up and go when a couple of good ones drop."
Shaw wasn't the only pro jazzed up in the otherwise somnolent surroundings at the Waialae Country Club. The 1971 Hawaiian Open came at a time of year for the golfers that was, well, more intense than usual. In three weeks these same pros will be 5,000 miles away, in Florida, fighting it out for the PGA Championship, and this year Hawaii was a dandy tune-up instead of the tour's most relaxing stopover. There was some of that, of course. The Hawaiian Open is traditionally the tournament with more diversions per hole than any other. As the old joke goes, it's the place they cut the field after the second round—heh, heh—to the low 80 and mai tais.
Most of the competitors this year stayed down in the Waikiki area, where they could spend their money quicker in a city that has developed L.A.-sized traffic jams and has fought its way up to No. 1 in the race to see which town can have the highest cost of living. Instead of watching surfers or hula dancers or guys twirling flaming sticks over your dinner plate, now you can sit in Honolulu and watch a new high-rise hotel or apartment house go up between meals.
The golfers spent their idle hours strolling through the International Market Place and bumping into each other, going to a variety of the more economical restaurants—all of which seemed to be named Chuck's Steak House—visiting Pearl Harbor, bypassing a number of parties given by the underwriter of the tournament, United Air Lines, and anxiously awaiting Raymond Floyd's Saturday night debut as a singer and guitarist at Chuck's Cellar, a Waikiki bistro. As for Floyd's performance, it can be said that no one in Nashville need have any fear of the competition. On the other hand, for a pro golfer, he wasn't that bad.
Told that Floyd was opening Saturday night at 10:30, John Brodie, the 49er quarterback and an exceptional amateur who came within a stroke of making the cut, said, "Raymond's been opening at 10:30 all his life. It's just that this time he has a guitar."
Floyd, a bit of a swinger, took that as a high compliment, but admitted he had been nervous at his debut. "This will sure make those three-footers easier to face."